OK, now the holidays are on. Russ Swart is back engaging people outside supermarkets and ringing his tinny bell.
Swart appeared on Page 1 of the PD last Christmas Day as the local Salvation Army's most supreme holiday bell ringer ever. He had attracted a legion of friends and admirers while volunteering nearly 300 hours alongside a kettle at the Safeway on Santa Rosa's Yulupa Avenue.
Salvation Army officers astounded by his dedication were blown away when they added up what folks dropped into his red bucket: $10,720.
This year, Swart works the Safeway nine hours a day, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. He switches to the G&G on West College Avenue on Wednesdays.
"My goal is 25,000 smiles," the sociable 64-year-old said.
Though his mission is to collect money for human services of the Salvation Army, it's clear what he loves most is meeting people.
"It's amazing, the conversations I have," Swart said. He invites folks to come by while he's on duty, ring the bell and get a sense of why he loves to work the pot.
SWART IS A GUEST at the three Nativity Art & Music Festival concerts this weekend at the Mormon Church up Yulupa Avenue from the Safeway.
He's pleased to be invited because he's a people person and one of his favorites is Dan Earl, the local legend who will direct the Saturday and Sunday performances.
NOT THIS BUCK: Until the other day, the most remarkable thing about a male deer living in the Summerfield Road area of Santa Rosa was its companions.
Resident Graham Malcolm-Wium says the buck looks after two apparently motherless fawns.
So it outraged him to see the buck has been shot. An arrow pierces its head from cheek to cheek.
Malcolm-Wium phoned state Fish & Game. A warden came and found the buck, which despite the arrow walks about and even eats. The warden told him he would consult with colleagues on options that include capturing the buck and removing the arrow, euthanizing it or trusting the arrow will in time work free.
Janice Mackey of Fish & Game confirmed that the buck has been observed and, at present, "does seem to be OK, stabilized."
Malcolm-Wium hopes to see the buck freed of the arrow. And he'd love to read that the person responsible is arrested and in the cooler.
THOSE BLANKETS that Marlene Scinto made, and wasn't sure why until she heard of the chilled misery wrought by superstorm Sandy, are en route to a ravaged part of Brooklyn.
There are more than 170 of the cozy, colorful fleece blankets. Marlene was prepared to pay the shipping costs herself, but she didn't have to.
It was a true Christmas moment when local UPS workers dug deep to pay a chunk of the nearly $500 shipping bill, and Jack and Judy DeMeo picked up the rest.