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Smith: 9-year-old theft victim down, but not out

  • Chris Smith.

At 9, Riley Orton is trying to make sense of why things like this sometimes happen.

Riley is the Kenwood lad who seems to have come into the world yearning to make it better by helping others.

There’s a school foundation in a Kenyan slum named for him because of all he’s done to send it donations and classroom supplies. Santa Rosa dentist Andrew McCormick earlier this year chose Riley as the winner of his office’s Good Deed contest and gave him a nice laptop.

The computer was in the Orton family’s car when someone stole it not long ago from in front of the house. Riley’s mom, Jennifer, put off telling him about the laptop while she prayed that authorities would find the car and the computer would still be there.

The car was recovered the other day but it’s pretty much trashed, and the laptop’s gone.

Riley is hurt, but he isn’t defeated. He presses on with his current coin drive for the children who get by on so very little at Akili School some 9,000 miles away.

RINGS A BELL: Look who’s back outside the Safeway on Santa Rosa’s Yulupa Avenue.

Russ Swart once again greets people for nine hours a day alongside a Salvation Army kettle. He learned at the bell ringers’ kickoff last week that in 2012 he brought in the most, by far, of anyone in the history of kettling by the local Salvation Army.

$13,789.59.

Russ said the money is great, it allows for many people and families to be helped. But just as much, he values the connection with the people who stop to talk or to help him ring the bell.

He’ll be outside the Safeway from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and outside the G&G on West College Avenue on Wednesdays.

THE BIG BOTTLES: The mega-generous and gracious Seppi family of Healdsburg’s Cousteaux French Bakery and Pepperwood Preserve’s Herb and Jane Dwight are the honorees at a luncheon Tuesday at Vintners Inn.

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