Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Only in SCV: Gifts That Deserve Giving

Rampant Christmas consumerism isn’t the sort of thing that keeps Claritans up at night. We’re not so worried about materialism getting the best of us during the holiday season. And I can sympathize. Why not reward those who make nice crap by buying it?

Still, it’s good to act charitably this time of year. Better yet, you can turn your charitable acts into gifts for others. Thus, I present three non-profits that present great gift-giving potential. With six full days of shopping left, consider these three ways to stuff the stockings in your life.

Charity: Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition
Give for your Neighbors in SCV

An email release from Gail Ortiz introduced me to the Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition. Mother Nature is always raging against somebody in this valley, whether with mudslides, floods, or fire, and the SCDC is there to help people recover. “The Coalition is comprised of a caring group of community leaders, including representatives from local government, businesses, faith-based organizations, schools, and nonprofits who seek to help those in need from our area rebuild their lives. The Coalition also works to address the need for increased awareness of local disaster preparedness and response plans.”

100% of donations to the SCDC help victims (that’s no overhead!), and in the wake of October’s fires they’ve prioritized helping families first. Basically, they’re doing disaster relief in the best way possible. A donation would be timely, appropriate, and rewarding to all parties involved. Donate on behalf of one of your friends or family members. Tell them they’ve helped make life a little warmer and a little better for neighbors in need.

Website: http://www.scvcoalition.com/

Culture & Community: Martial Arts Museum
Give a Membership

I know that I’m usually being ironic when I talk about Newhall being the seat of the arts, but the Martial Arts Museum is the real deal. They’re working hard to be a vital part of the community by hosting screenings, demonstrations (everything from Kung Fu to sushi rolling), and other events. Though the martial arts might seem like a fringe interest, they’ve become an important part of American culture, and this is the first museum dedicated to them.

I went to the museum for the first time about a month ago. I particularly liked a section on Hawaiian martial arts. The construction of weapons from wood and shark teeth point to the challenges of life on an island with no steel. Wooden spears and clubs offered insight into Hawaii’s culture and natural history. The museum is full of such wonderful discoveries-in-the-waiting—classic Bruce Lee clips, samurai swords, historic garb…

The founder and president, Art Comacho, is an exceedingly nice guy who is building the museum’s collection with grants, determination, and connections. I won’t lie—the space doesn’t look “finished” in the way most of LA’s small museums do, but it’s growing and improving all the time. A membership is a great way to both support this growth and benefit from it. Members are entitled to visit the collection, attend cultural classes, and receive discounts.

Website: http://www.martialartsmuseum.com/
Phone: 661.255.3322

Nature & Conservation: Placerita Canyon Natural Area & Nature Center
Give a Rattlesnake (really!—sort of)

The Placerita Canyon Nature Center of my childhood—the one with dark wood beams, charming stuffed specimens, and a musky, mildew aroma—is no more. The operation has been moved to a trailer parked just outside the nature center of yore. At first, I thought this was a way to make visitors from Canyon Country feel more comfortable (not all of them are used to entering buildings without wheels[2]), but Placerita is actually in the midst of a face-lift. Despite the challenges of construction, PNC remains a central part of Santa Clarita life. Its land preserves wildflowers and wild creatures, it's the epicenter of the Community Hiking Club, the staff teach thousands of school kids about nature every year, and the center hosts wonderful events like night hikes, animal presentations, and natural history classes.

One way you can help support these efforts is by adopting one of the nature center’s animals. This is a most efficient gift: it will help PNC pay an animal’s food and vet bills and it has the potential of knocking an entire family off of your shopping list. Indeed, giving an adoption certificate and photo of an adorable opossum (or of a semi-adorable rattlesnake) is perfect for a family with young kids or nature lovers. You can call them for more details.

Website: http://www.placerita.org/
Phone: 661.259.7721

[1]The press release available here.
[2]Oh get over it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for some alternatives to those being pushed by one of the SCV's so-called magazines. They recommend doing our shopping at one of the many "mom & pop" stores found locally, and who, of course, are advertisers in the magazine. My issues with most M&P stores are that they exist only for the benefit of the owners. They have no interest in opening early or staying open late for the hoards of us who must leave the valley for work. Most M&Ps are left in the care of the SCV's teenage workforce who have little to no concern for what the consumer wants and needs. So yes, I'm sure these stores are a dream for the owners, but a nightmare for everyone else. If you want my money, you need to be open when I can shop. Having an adult on the premises is a pretty good idea too.

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