It was well worth all the work of organizing and holding a fundraiser at Vista Grande Elementary School in Danville last week. The goal was to raise $3,500, which would pay for a well in Ethiopia to provide clean drinking water for nearby villagers. In the space of 11/2 hours, Vista Grande students and their families responded by donating $4,800, exceeding all hopes.

"Our school did a great job," said Karen Huether, coordinator of the "Build a Well" event. "It was neat how the parents and everybody were in full support of it."

Karen explained that, for a $10 donation, students received a custom T-shirt, a sticker and a baked item. The student leadership group PRIDE (Positive Attitude, Respect, Integrity, Discipline and Ethics) ran the event. Sponsors included Car West Auto Body, Community Bank of the Bay and Huether Insurance Agency.

"If you give students the opportunity for leadership, they see how their taking responsibility can change lives," Karen said. PRIDE organizes community service projects frequently, some to benefit the immediate community and some, like the "Build a Well" event, to help others far away. In all cases, their motto, "We are all connected," is about kids helping other kids, she said.

Joining in to help with this "Well" fundraiser was Jessica Oxley, 14, a former Vista Grande student now attending Athenian. "Jessica, through Vista Grande, is working to raise money for an American doctor who lives and works in Ethiopia, Rick Hodes," said Jessica's father, Keir Oxley, in an email. "Among other things, Rick raises money to build wells, and that is what we are trying to do here."


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Jessica, with help from her parents, created an animated video to explain the well project in rural Ethiopia, where women trek long distances to get what is often dirty, contaminated water and carry jugs that weigh as much as 40 pounds back to their village.

Keir said he is planning to go to Ethiopia with his kids this summer to see the work being done by Dr. Hodes. The informative, charming video is posted on Vista Grande's website at http://vges-srvusd-ca.schoolloop.com/cms/page_view?d=x&;piid=&vpid=1237080202237.

Vista Grande's PRIDE group has a sister school in San Pablo, Downer Elementary, to which books, food baskets, and cash for school supplies are donated. For additional information, contact Karen at 925-855-0737. To donate money toward the well project, visit www.rickhodes.org/donate or send a check to JDC, PO Box 4124, New York, NY, 10163, noting on the check "Dr. Rick Hodes, VG Well."

The irony is not lost on me, as I segue from the desperately poor country of Ethiopia back to Danville, where my next column item concerns consumption of wonderful cuisine and beverages.

Chamber event: Danville residents are invited to get to know local chefs, restaurants, wineries and a craft brewer at the 2013 Danville Area Chamber of Commerce Business & Culinary Showcase from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville. More than 80 local businesses are participating, including Blackhawk Grille, Bridges, Forbes Mill Steakhouse, Giani's Italian Bistrom, Kokum Fine Cuisine, Martini Sky, Piatti, Schubros Brewery and Thyme to Eat Catering. It's an all-you-can-eat-and-drink event for $35 a person until April 1, when the price goes up to $50. For tickets and additional information, call the Chamber at 925-837-4400, or click on the store tab at http://danvilleareachamber.com.

Contact Georgia Lambert at arounddanville@yahoo.com.