Two members of the Sonoma County Medical Alliance have been honored for their work to improve and expand a program that for 60 years has provided Christmas gifts to foster children.

Shawn Devlin and Lindsay Mazur, both Santa Rosa residents, received awards from the alliance for their contributions to the community.

"It is the most important program we do," said Charlene Staples, alliance spokeswoman. "They won the award because they transformed this program and grew it so it includes laptops for older children. They organized the program so it is streamlined and better run."

In 2003, Devlin and Mazur took over the Foster Children's Gift Program, in which alliance members buy Christmas gifts for foster children in conjunction with the Sonoma County Department of Human Services and the Valley of the Moon Children's Center.

The alliance, which is made up of 165 spouses of Sonoma County physicians, started the program in the 1950s, giving gifts to 265 youths.

The two women shortened the name to Give a Gift, came up with a logo and changed the program so alliance members, friends and neighbors could make cash donations and then a dozen people would do all the shopping.

"We branded ourselves, we evolved the program so it has its own look and feel, and our own logo, so when it came in the mail, people would recognize it and set it aside to donate later," Devlin said. "We did better marketing and better branding to make ourselves stand out."

The two raised $30,000 for gifts last year and have probably raised between $150,000 and $200,000 since they took it over, Devlin said.

"It is letters and e-mails; we have not done fundraising, we don't hold luncheons and events, it is literally grass roots, going to members and the community," Devlin said.

What children need and want also has changed. Coats and art supplies are still a staple, but the requests for bicycles has dropped off and the requests for iPods and digital cameras has increased.

The program has also been expanded now to purchase laptop computers for 20 foster children who are turning 18, leaving the county program and going off to college.

"It has been amazing, and it has been a lot of fun, and so inspiring to see some of these older kids and see the program change and adapt to the kids' needs," Mazur said.

"We wanted to hone in on what these kids need. We wanted to get in touch with older kids who maybe needed something more."

Mazur also said they have no intention of stepping down from the program now.

"If there is anything we can do to help kids, who are the most vulnerable, I cannot imagine not doing it," Mazur said.

Information about Give a Gift is available on the alliance website,

(You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or

Anniversary events

What: Afternoon of Recognition hosted by Amaturo Sonoma Media Group

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 30

Where: Old Courthouse Square

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What: Wildfire Anniversary Event: Community Healing Together. All-ages event to with art activities, musical performances, guided hikes, and food.

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6

Where: Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, 5750 Faught Road

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What: Museums of Sonoma County opening reception for “From the Fire: A Community Reflects and Rebuilds,” which runs through Jan. 27

When: 3-6 p.m. Oct. 6

Where: 505 B St., Santa Rosa

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*The event is the first in a larger series through the month of October, including an Oct. 25 event from 7-8:30 p.m. at 505 B St. featuring Press Democrat journalists discussing the fire coverage that earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.


What: Together in Hope, a prayer gathering in solidarity to honor and remember the resiliency and recovery from the North Bay Fires.

When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 7

Where: Cardinal Newman High School Field, 50 Ursuline Road.

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What: County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa’s ceremony, featuring chalk for artistic expression on sidewalks around Courthouse Square.

When: 4 – 8 p.m. Oct. 8, with a ceremony with a reading by Sonoma County Poet Laureate, Maya Khosla, and a firefighter memorial bell ringing begins at 6 p.m. Chalk will be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 9

Where: Old Courthouse Square


What: La Luz Center’s appreciation of community resiliency, featuring food, art activities, resources and a listening session in Spanish conducted by Sustainable Sonoma.

When: 6-8 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: La Luz Center, 17560 Greger St. Sonoma



What: Honoring Loss, Rising in Hope – an evening of singing, prayer and reflection.

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 9

Where: First United Methodist Church, 1151 Montgomery Drive

More details: Contact Pastor Lindsey Bell-Kerr at


What: One-year remembrance gathering hosted by Coffey Strong

When: 7-8 p.m. Oct. 9

Where: Near the intersection of Hopper Avenue and Coffey Lane

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