Smith: 580 hugs on Mrs. Tubbs' first day back

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.

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