Bouquets from Blossom Buddies help patients 'feel so much better'


Courtesy of Sheela Veerina
Blossom Buddies participants create and deliver bouquets to patients in hospitals and nursing homes.

Volunteer Robin Bantz will probably never forget the reaction of a woman at Stanford Hospital to whom she delivered flowers. The woman burst into tears at the sight of the colorful bouquet.

“I’m so grateful that you are here today, and you’ve really made my week because I haven’t seen anyone this week,” said Bantz, recalling the conversation. “I haven’t had any family or friends visit. It’s been kind of lonely, and this has just made a big difference. I’m so glad you’re here because you just made me feel so much better.”

Volunteer transitions from tech to tour guide


Courtesy of Laurie Schutters
Tonia Spyridi has found a new calling as a Hidden Villa volunteer.

High-tech retiree Tonia Spyridi, a Los Altos resident of 35 years who grew up in Greece, fell in love with volunteering as a Hidden Villa farm and wilderness guide in 2016, but she started out reluctantly.

“I wasn’t sure I could do this,” Spyridi said.

Masonic Lodge hosts open house this weekend


Courtesy of Patrick Bailey 
Members of the Los Altos Masonic Lodge gather for a group portrait. The Masonic Lodge has scheduled an informal open house during the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival, scheduled this weekend.

The Los Altos Masonic Lodge is scheduled to host an informal open house during the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 146 Main St.

Activities will include drop-in tours of the Lodge Room and short presentations and explanations of the three Masonic Degrees.

Plastics prove a health hazard for more than marine life


Plastic is everywhere. You’re likely wearing it right now – polyester, fleece, sneakers – and will likely ingest some with your next meal.

While most of us recognize the problem of plastic waste polluting our oceans and harming marine life, we don’t realize that plastic and the toxins that leach from it accumulate in our bodies. Medical researchers are now examining levels of plastic-derived chemical compounds in humans to better understand the health effects.

Santa Clara Valley Lives: Margaret Hill Smith's solar jam – a recipe ahead of its time


Robin Chapman/Special to the Town Crier
Jam cooked in the sun takes three to four days before it’s done. The recipe is from Margaret Hill Smith, whose husband Gilbert planted the Los Altos Civic Center Apricot Orchard.

You may think solar power is a 21st-century concept. But a Los Altos woman, born before the invention of the airplane, can still teach us a thing or two about it.

The late Margaret Hill Smith, whose husband planted the apricot orchard in 1901 that now surrounds Los Altos City Hall, loved apricot jam. But she didn’t like cooking it over a hot stove on warm summer days. Instead, she mixed her jam in a low pan and placed it outside on a table in direct sunlight, covering the pot with a piece of glass. The glass magnified the sun’s rays, which then cooked the jam. She placed four matchsticks at four different spots where the glass met the pot, to allow the air to circulate and cook the jam more evenly. Four days in the sun and the jam was done.

Service league celebrates 5 years of giving back


Courtesy of Stacy Peña
The Mountain View/Los Altos Service League of Boys recently completed its fifth year, donating 3,200 hours of volunteer work.

The Mountain View/Los Altos Service League of Boys (SLOBs) recently completed its fifth year of service to the community, devoting 3,200 hours of work.

With 175 boys attending 15 different middle and high schools, SLOBs is a philanthropic organization that initiates and promotes educational and charitable endeavors. The organization aims to foster community responsibility as well as strengthen the parent-son relationship.


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