Community

Los Altos Rotarians launch a ‘bear’ of a fundraising campaign

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Courtesy of Rotary Club of Los Altos
A 5-foot-tall fiberglass bear peers out the window of Town Crier offices at 138 Main St. Individuals and groups can sponsor a bear around town through the Rotary Club of Los Altos’ fundraiser.

These grizzlies won’t run 35 mph or take down bull elk – but they’re bound to raise lots of money for charity.

The “Bears in Los Altos” community art project and fundraising campaign encourages groups and individuals to contribute by sponsoring a white fiberglass bear. Sponsors can choose artists to paint and decorate the bears for display and auction.

The project is led by art consultant Carol Dabb and the Rotary Club of Los Altos. Proceeds will go to the club’s endowment fund as well as charities of the sponsors and the auction donors.

“We will use local artists, artist groups and school kids to decorate,” Dabb said last week.

Some bears have already shown up around town – including at the Town Crier offices – but Dabb said “more bears are coming soon to Los Altos. We have 51 bears coming. Over 27 have been sponsored and spoken for – 24 more to be sponsored at this time, but the idea is catching on quickly. … We will order more bears when we get more sponsors.”

Bears come in four different sizes – from 20-inch-long sitting bears to grizzly-sized giants at 8-feet-by-5-feet.

Dabb said she was inspired by the “Cows on Parade” campaign in Chicago that started approximately 20 years ago and has raised millions for charities.

“Many states and cities followed suit,” she said of the project.

With cancellation of last year’s Fine Art in the Park event – the Rotary Club’s largest fundraiser – Dabb looked for a viable alternative.

“I came up with the idea to do California bears,” she said. “I had all the knowledge and experience to develop this. The grizzly is our state animal and symbol on our flag. I received support from Rotary, who agreed bears can be fun and do ‘human’ kinds of things. I proceeded to develop this project.”

Dabb has created a website, losaltosbears.com, where sponsors and artists can sign up. Artists can offer sketches of proposed designs, subject to the approval by a Rotary Club “bear committee.” Club members can pair up sponsors with artists, or sponsors can select their own artists.

Some decorated bears will be unveiled as early as March and put on public display throughout downtown Los Altos. In October, they will be up for sale at an auction. Proceeds benefit the charity of the sponsor/donor’s choice (80%) and the Los Altos Rotary Endowment Fund (20%), which in the past has supported local nonprofit groups and scholarships for students.

“This public art event will build community camaraderie while raising funds for charities,” the website promises. “Everyone will have enormous amounts of fun.”

Sponsorship prices vary.

To sign up and for more information, visit losaltosbears.com.

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