Melinda Tubbs, for the past 27 years the beloved office manager at Santa Rosa's JX Wilson School, was eager and also jittery about returning to work Monday.

She'd been off since Dec. 6, mourning and starting to adjust to the death of her husband, Robbie.

Mrs. Tubbs stepped into the school office and grasped her heart. Colleagues had strung her desk and the entire office with a chain of hand-decorated paper gingerbread boys and girls, one made by each child at the school.

"What it represents is a group hug," she said.

She's normally on the giving end when a child comes to the office in need of an embrace. "It's amazing," she said, "the power of a hug."

<strong>AT CASA GRANDE,</strong> 180 members of the Petaluma high school's five bands played stirringly at their

Winter Concert, then they did something grand.

The students knew Casa's instrumental music programs could use the $1,000 in donations taken in that night. But they embraced an idea by band directors Arlene Burney and Sean Millard.

They donated every cent to middle-school band teacher Jonathan Saler of Santa Rosa. On Dec. 10, Saler and his wife, Judy, barely escaped a ruinous house fire.

This is just a piece of the heartening outpouring that's come to the Salers since the blaze. And now there's a relief account, the Saler Family Trust, at Exchange Bank.

<strong>IT'S A HONEY.</strong> But the Chevrolet Bel-Air that graces the cover of Sebastopol's 2014 Classic Cars/Classic People calendar is not a '56.

Calendar photographer Dean Brittingham of the Sebastopol Area Senior Center kicks herself that a typo misstated the year of Gus St. Marie's white-over-red Chevy. It's a heavenly '57.

Despite the error, the calendar's an ideal gift, one that pays for rides for Sebastopol-area seniors.

Available at the Senior Center, Fircrest and Pacific markets and the Sebastopol Copperfield's, the calendar stars also the 1916 Hudson handed down to Lee and Carolyn Martinelli, Carla Batchelder and her dreamy 1950 Olds and the '53 Cadillac that Christian Nolan rode in as a kid and inherited as a grown-up.

<strong>IS HE SANTA?</strong> No, Bill Friedman is just a caring guy with good retail connections and the support of an astounding community.

Bill is chairman of Friedman's Home Improvement and a partner, with KZST and the Volunteer Center, in the Secret Santa gift program. This year, he did something about the historic difficulty in granting wishes for bikes.

He told Huffy Bicycles about Secret Santa and the company gave the charitable gift campaign 150 bikes at a great price. Then Bill spoke with Bell about helmets, and with Master about bike locks.

Soon, Secret Santa received about 300 helmets at little cost and hundreds of free, top-quality locks.

"It's definitely a community effort," Bill said. So true.

But many kids and adults would not receive the greatest gift ever — a new bike — were it not for the humanity and acumen of this one man.

<em>Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and</em>

For past coverage of the slayings, go here