September 25, 2012
I Care: The Book Den duo

Barbara Carr, left, and Diane Rogers are pricing a rare book donated to Friends of the Sacramento Public Library when one of them asks, "Is this a $50 book or a $2.50 book?" Within seconds, the women in matching blue shirts price the book in unison: "Twenty-five dollars." The duo are volunteer store managers for The Book Den. The friends can read each other's thoughts as well as they read books.
In 1999, Carr and Rogers secured a cheap warehouse space and opened the store where they sell used library and donated books, video and audio books and sheet music at a fraction of what they're worth. Proceeds benefit the Sacramento Public library.
"We want to make this a community resource," Rogers said. "Getting (books) in the hands of children and people who can't afford books is one of our primary goals."

September 23, 2012
I Care: Raising a Miracle For Someone Else

The hardest part about raising a puppy for Canine Companions for Independence is not all the training you have to do. It's the day you let the dog go, says Monica Di Nocco, 17, a senior at Oak Ridge High School. She knows she'll be able say goodbye to her first puppy-in-training, 10-month-old, Halo, because she sees the good a companion dog does for her mother, Peggy, who has multiple sclerosis. Before her mom's dog, Felice, came into their life, Monica's spent her teen years helping her mother and worrying about leaving her alone. Felice performs simple yet crucial tasks such as picking things up for Peggy, helping her out of bed or fetching her cell phone. Felice gives Monica freedom and peace of mind.
So she's giving back. "You're raising a miracle for somebody else," she said. "She's kind of like a part of me. I have to put (everything) into her."

September 13, 2012
I Care: Food literacy as sweet as a peach

Sweet, sticky peach juice runs down chins of happy children. Small hands draw pictures of their favorite fruits and vegetables and then are raised high with questions on how to ripen peaches and plums in a bag. "Do you have to use special paper or is Dollar Tree paper ok?" one girl asked.
This is the heart of Amber Stott's new non-profit, the California Food Literacy Center. A self-proclaimed child on the inside she teaches kids about smart food choices in an after-school program at Capitol Heights Academy in Oak Park.
Healthy food is becoming more available to low-income families but there's a gap in educating them on how to use it. Stott wants to fix the problem. "There's a burning in my belly to do something more," she said. "I wanted to spread love and have them be inspired by food like I am."
20120913_AOC_ICareStott_085w.jpg So many of society's issues intersect in food, Stott says, hunger, health and the environment. "Every bite of food we take we are voting. We're voting for health. We're voting for community. We're voting for the planet." Tackling these issues are as simple as introducing a child to a peach.
During the after-school program, children from kindergarden to fifth grade are exposed to a different piece of produce each week. They learn carefully crafted lessons about food and nutrition. Returning students from last year's pilot program recalled lessons like "trans-fat is worse than fat" and organic versus conventional foods.
"They're like little sponges," Stott beamed. "It's awesome!" The younger the child is the easier it is to effect their attitude about food, she has noticed.

20120913_AOC_ICareStott_424w.jpg Stott coined the concept of food literacy, which she defines as "understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our community." She worked with Assemblymember Roger Dickinson to have September officially named "Food Literacy Month." To celebrate the month she is hosting a Food Literacy Fair on Sept. 22 at the Oak Park Farmers Market, holding a food literacy sandwich contest and more. For now the program resides at one school and is conducted by unpaid volunteers like herself but her vision is to create a program that goes state-wide. "We need an army of people to deliver food literacy," she said.
For more information visit www.californiafoodliteracy.org
Do you know someone who works hard to help others? Please send suggestions for the I Care column to Autumn Cruz at acruz@sacbee.com.

September 9, 2012
Sean D. Tucker's Flight Over the Capitol

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Several readers have written to ask about the Bee's front page photo of stunt pilot Sean D. Tucker's Oracle III biplane flying over the State Capitol that ran on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Sean was in town to perform in the California Capital Air Show at Mather airport that weekend. His team invited the Bee to ride along in their chase plane to get some photos we could use to preview Sean's performance at the air show. He flew his stunt plane while I rode in another plane just a few feet away (between 15 and 100 feet.)

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This photo, provided courtesy of Brian Norris of the Oracle team, shows the chase plane during a similar flight earlier this year. It is a Piper Seneca III modified to accommodate photographers. The rear seats were removed, and the side was open to the wind. I wore a tethered safety harness which allowed me to move freely within the plane and safely lean out to get unobstructed views.

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We flew near Mather where Tucker performed a few aerobatic stunts, and then we flew over the downtown area, circling the capitol building a few times, before returned to Mather. The on-board headset allowed me to speak directly to the pilot of the chase plane, and to Sean in order to coordinate the between the two aircraft. The whole flight took bout 30 minutes, and I shot several hundred frames.

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This final photo is of Hall of Fame stunt pilot Sean D. Tucker sitting in the chase airplane in the hangar at Mather airport just prior to our flight. It was a thrilling experience and a rare opportunity to see a world-class stunt pilot in action, and from such a unique vantage point.