DANVILLE -- When Haley Anderson plays piano for the residents of the Santa Clara Care Home, they gather around and sing along.

"They like it," said owner Nina Ignacio. "Sometimes she extends her time because people are enjoying it."

The scene has repeated itself over the past year at seven facilities in Danville, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek as the 16-year-old Monte Vista High School junior has visited and performed classic tunes such as the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."

Andersons' volunteer work so impressed Tri-Valley Pediatrics' doctors Sam Pejham and Lionel Herrera that they selected her as the winner of their first-ever "Do A Good Deed Contest" and presented her with a Dell computer.

The contest, which was advertised around valley schools and required an essay, was aimed at recognizing youth for giving back to the community and inspiring them to continue volunteering.

Pejham said although they received many great applications, Anderson stood out because of her ongoing weekly effort to contribute to the community in an individual way.

"It's just something she went outside and did it on her own," he said.

Anderson, who has been playing piano since she was 5, began performing annually at an elder care facility during a holiday party.

But a year ago, she began making the visits a regular routine at the home where her grandmother lives. The owner asked her to perform elsewhere, and now she plays at two or three homes a week.


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Anderson said she has received various responses, from indifference to eagerness, such as the Santa Clara facility residents' enthusiastic response.

"Some people just love it -- absolutely love it," she said.

Anderson, who also assists a faith class at her church and plays softball for Monte Vista High School, teaches herself most of the songs she plays and even looks up music after receiving requests.

What keeps Anderson going back is the people -- from a gruff man named Barry who communicates mostly by hand gestures and who has softened over time to the sweet woman named June who treats Anderson's visit like a concert -- a theme she captured in her essay.

"Every single one of the residents has touched my life in some way, and I certainly hope that I have touched theirs," she wrote.

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