Book of Dreams

They asked for needed items. Bee readers responded enthusiastically

One group was particularly “jazzed” about community donations they received, thanks to generous Sacramento Bee readers.

Ian Levin, manager of the ReImagine Mack Road Foundation’s Valley Hi community center, had asked for funds to outfit a spartan band room with instruments such as a Yamaha clarinet and full-sized classical guitar. He got that and much more, as people who read about the center’s needs drove from all over greater Sacramento to hand-deliver more than 20 instruments in need of a new home.

Drum kits, violins, guitars, amps, horns, clarinets and flutes were donated by kindhearted Sacramentans with stories to tell about how they obtained their instruments and why they wanted to pass them on, Levin said.

“Every day, somebody brought something else in,” he said. “The donation piece of this really alerted me to how many people really care. They thought, ‘Wow, I want to contribute to this,’ and went out of their way to make it happen.”

The hundreds of students who come through the community center every year have vied for time on ReImagine Mack Road’s few instruments since Levin began working there three years ago. Now that there are more to go around, he sees small bands coming together in the future to play at Summer Night Lights events, which drew a total of 11,000 people in 2017.

ReImagine Mack Road’s community center supports children up to age 18 from low-income families. Some had played instruments before financial hardships forced them to abandon music, while others hadn’t yet had opportunities to do so.

Secondhand woodwinds and strings will make that happen. But the financial contributions that funded a few shiny, new instruments can be even more important in building a child’s confidence.

“I want our kids to feel like they’re worthy of things that nice, that they deserve those instruments, and we can give that to them now,” Levin said.

Off on the right foot

The temperature on Thursday hovered in the low 50s. But there was 8-year-old Zainab Ahmadi, strolling into a Fleet Feet store in a pair of worn white sandals.

Ahmadi, her parents and three siblings had emigrated from Afghanistan to Sacramento just nine days earlier in search of a better life. A family friend connected her father with Shapoor Benawa and Starting Point for Regufee Children, a nonprofit started by Sacramento City College instructor Vickee Moy earlier this year.

Moy had asked Book of Dreams readers to help buy shoes for 300 children of Afghan refugees recently resettled in Sacramento. The community came through with welcome presents for families like the Ahmadis.

Starting Point has already gathered 90 school backpacks, uniforms and books, and more than 700 blankets for recent immigrants, about 95 percent of whom come from Afghanistan. Moy had planned to give out small hygiene kits next, but changed her mind after hearing several mothers complain about the cost of buying shoes for fast-growing children.

“In talking with some of the moms, they’ve always stressed their need for just basic things,” Moy said.

Zainab eventually fell for a pair of blue-and-pink running shoes, smiling and shaking her head when Fleet Feet employees tried to interest her in other options. She’ll start the new year – and a new school – in style.

Benjy Egel: 916-321-1052, @BenjyEgel

Book of Dreams wishes

Here’s the complete list of wishes in The Bee’s Book of Dreams series. To make donations, go to

Virtual reality program for UCP

Dream: Funds are sought to purchase reality goggles, monitor, cameras and software for United Cerebral Palsy of Sacramento and Northern California.

Needed: Virtual reality program, customized to UCP’s program and clients’ needs.

Cost: $5,000

Griddle for hospitality center

Dream: Maryhouse Hospitality Center for Homeless Women seeks funds to upgrade equipment to serve meals.

Needed: A restaurant-quality griddle.

Cost: $600

Supplies for wildlife care group

Dream: The Wildlife Care Association needs funds to buy a variety of goods to aid the nonprofit community service volunteer-based organization.

Needed: Batteries, dry cat and dog kibble, frozen fruit and vegetables, mealworms and more.

Cost: $2,000

Video games for therapy, clothes for 11-year-old

Dream: Funds requested to buy video games and warm clothing for Noah Whitaker, 11, who has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease that affects muscle strength and movement.

Needed: PS4 games, shirts, pants, jacket, socks.

Cost: $1,500

Shoes for refugee children

Dream: The nonprofit Starting Point for Refugee Children seeks funds to purchase new footwear.

Needed: Shoes for 300 refugee children.

Cost: $6,000

Scooter to help with mobility

Dream: A motorized scooter for Brandy Summerfield, who suffers from congenital hip dysplasia.

Needed: A foldable electric mobility scooter.

Cost: $2,850

Baby baskets for center

Dream: Funds to purchase 100 baby baskets for the Sacramento Life Center, a nonprofit medical clinic that provides free services to pregnant women and new mothers.

Needed: Formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers, etc.

Cost: $5,000

Beds-in-bag for graduates

Dream: The Next Move shelter seeks funds to buy beds-in-a-bag for every child who graduates from its program.

Needed: Beds-in-a-bag for 276 children.

Cost: $7,600

English-language materials sought

Dream: Funds to buy a variety of English-learning materials for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.

Needed: Farsi-English dictionaries, children’s books, workbooks and translator services.

Cost: $5,100

Musical instruments, equipment needed

Dream: Donations sought to purchase new or gently used musical instruments and equipment for south Sacramento youngsters.

Needed: Keyboards, piano, trumpets, wind instruments, stringed instruments, etc.

Cost: $5,000

Shed sought for rescue animals

Dream: Itsie Bitsie Rescue Inc. needs funds to buy materials to house animals before they are adopted.

Needed: A shed-type building and kennels.

Cost: $2,000

Photo packages for special evening

Dream: Prom photo packet for Evening of Dreams participants.

Needed: 167 photo packages

Cost: $5,000

Beds, bedding for nonprofit

Dream: Beds and bedding for Family Promise of Sacramento.

Needed: 16 rollaway beds and accessories.

Cost: $3,200

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