Through countless hours and days of work by hundreds of volunteers from the Salt Lake Valley's Greek Orthodox community, primarily the women's auxiliary called the Philoptochos Society, those groceries were used to make such zestful items as 25,000 dolmathes, 10,000 pieces of baklava, 14,500 pieces of spanakopita (spinach pie), 11,540 meatballs and 2,700 almond cookies.
The list of beneficiaries from the festival's proceeds also is impressive. It includes the Alliance House, Festival of Trees, Primary Children's Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House, KSL Quarters for Christmas, St. Vincent de Paul Emergency Services, United Way, Utah AIDS Foundation, YWCA of Salt Lake City, Feed the Poor, Fourth Street Clinic, Intermountain Handicap Services, Thanksgiving dinner for those in need, The Road Home, Utah Food Bank and St. Sophia School.
Saving lives • The South Ogden animal shelter averages 20 to 40 adoptions a week. A no-kill facility, it pulls animals from other shelters, even beyond Utah. New Mexico is a high-kill state, says Karol Johnson, an animal-services volunteer in Brigham City. South Ogden saves many animals by transporting them from New Mexico, as well as Idaho.
Johnson says she recently was at the South Ogden shelter and watched a van pull up. "They unloaded 95 dogs," she said, "and found foster homes for each one of them."
The dogs, she said, are vaccinated, dewormed, bathed, microchipped, and spayed or neutered. They get rabies shots and other medical care.
She recalls that a three-legged German shepherd found a foster home. She remembers a dog that just had a litter and watching a South Ogden firefighter hustling the newborn pups into the shelter to save them.
That shelter, of course, is another worthy cause for charitable donations.
Speaking of worthy causes • The Rape Recovery Center and Westminster College have had a solid community partnership for several years. The center is four blocks from the east Salt Lake City campus.
Each academic year, students participate in several activities and turn all proceeds over to the center for its advocacy work and therapy for victims of sexual violence. Several Westminster students have worked at the center as crisis-line volunteers and as interns.
This past school year broke a record, says center executive director Holly Mullen.
Mullen says that Trisha Teig, assistant dean of students, delivered an $11,281.73 check to the center this summer. It represents proceeds from a student production in February of Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues," a student-created rock concert and several other activities. Each of the previous three years, the donation has hovered around $9,000.
An act of compassion • Julia Vernon recently had to take her 14-year-old dog on her last trip to the vet after it was obvious the animal was in constant pain.
The Countryside Animal Clinic in Tooele was shorthanded and laboring to meet the needs of a full schedule of patients. A man who had an appointment before Vernon's approached and petted her dog, saying he understood the emotions because he recently had to have his 13-year-old "best friend" put down.
Then the man went to the receptionist and said, "Let these people go first."
Lost and found • Fred Cvar says he has never met a bird-watcher he didn't like. That includes Stacy Pierce, who was following Cvar on Interstate 215 last Friday, when the binoculars he absent-mindedly left on the roof of his car fell off.
She retrieved the binoculars and, because of her hobby, recognized they were expensive. I put a notice in my column Wednesday to alert the owner. But Cvar noticed a sign Pierce had posted by the freeway exit, contacted her and got back his binoculars.