San Benito Lifestyle

Spring Grove teacher spreads kindness to essential workers

Julie Neff delivers food to those on the local frontlines of the pandemic.
Julie Neff, teacher and director of the Spring Groves Kindness Club delivers lunch to the Hazel Hawkins labor and delivery department. Photo provided.
Julie Neff, teacher and director of the Spring Groves Kindness Club delivers lunch to the Hazel Hawkins labor and delivery department. Photo provided.
Refco Farms employees recieve lunches from Fourth Street Eatery provided by the Spring Grove Kindness Club. Photo provided.
Refco Farms employees recieve lunches from Fourth Street Eatery provided by the Spring Grove Kindness Club. Photo provided.
Box lunches from Fourth Street Eatery and homemade cookies from Hillary Raine delivered to a group of men and women that work in the fields. Photo provided.
Box lunches from Fourth Street Eatery and homemade cookies from Hillary Raine delivered to a group of men and women that work in the fields. Photo provided.
Neff's daughter created this flyer, which was distributed on various social media pages. Photo provided.
Neff's daughter created this flyer, which was distributed on various social media pages. Photo provided.

Staff in the Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital labor and delivery department got a surprise delivery of sandwiches, wraps, coffee and tea on April 18. Julie Neff, founder and director of the Spring Grove School Kindness Club, brought the food and drink from Be True Cafe.

“I thanked them for everything they do and also for reaching out and helping the elderly and immune-compromised shop at Safeway,” Neff said, referring to a team of nurses who stood in front of the market and offered to shop for those most at-risk to the coronavirus. “That was a wonderful act of kindness!”

Allison Griffin, RN in the labor and delivery department, said “We don’t expect any special accolades simply for coming to do our job, but it’s a very heartwarming surprise when meals, coffees or treats are delivered to us as a thank you or token of appreciation.” 

Neff, who’s taught at Spring Grove School for 24 years, started the Glorious Kindness Club in 2014 with her two daughters “to help spread glorious kindness at home, in our school and in our community. My goal with all of this has been that no child ever feel alone.” She is a recipient of the 2020 KSBW Jefferson Award and also an executive board member and Kindness Club academy director for whole-brain teaching that allowed her to help other schools set up clubs similar to the one at Spring Grove. The school itself is a part of the North County Joint Union School District.

Since its inception, the club has organized campaigns to spread kindness in the community. At their last in-person meeting on March 13, the club came together for their annual making of “homeless blessing bags.” The idea, which originated from the students themselves, is to donate supplies such as toothpaste, hand warmers, tissue and gloves to distribute to homeless people in the community.

The hospital doctors and nurses aren’t the first to receive food from Neff. Her efforts to feed essential workers got started around the time the county’s shelter-in-place order went into effect on March 18. She said that listening to news stories and talking to family and friends sparked a thought of not only helping local restaurants, “but also saying thank you to those in our community on the front lines.”

Over the next few days, it became clear that there was a need to support local businesses and restaurants, Neff said.

Firefighters with the Hollister Fire Department were the first to receive food when Neff delivered pizza and salad from Grillin and Chillin Ale House on March 20. Other recipients include Hazel Hawkins Emergency Room staff, employees at Safeway, Walgreens Pharmacy, Nob Hill Pharmacy, the Southside Labor Camp, and farmworkers. Neff has delivered food from restaurants such as El Nopal Bakery, Round Table Pizza, Ohana Shaved Ice, Fourth Street Eatery and Be True Café.     

Because of the shelter-in-place order and school closures, the 100-plus students in the Kindness Club have only been able to participate remotely through donations or by creating thank you cards and art for essential workers to go along with the food deliveries. On top of teaching, Neff collects the donations, identifies recipients, orders from the restaurants and delivers the food herself. She said cash donations are “the best way to support our acts of kindness.”

Through various donations, the club has been able to raise $1,250.

“Thank you to all that have donated so far,” Neff said. “We are all in this together.” 

For more information or to donate, contact Julie Neff at jtneff@pacbell.net.

 

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Patty Lopez Day

Patty Lopez Day,  graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2005 with a B.A. in English and Chicana/o Studies, and holds an A.A. in English from Evergreen and San Jose City College.  A writer and journalist she's covered  local news, politics,  education, immigration, sports and travel for print media having articles published in several Bay Area newspapers and magazines.  Born and raised in Santa Clara County she has called Hollister home since 2018.