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Participants in a Dec. 16 workshop at Vintage Grocers allowed children to make various ornaments while supporting Malibu educators. Robby Wells
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
11:24 am PST December 22, 2018

The essence of the holiday season includes a longstanding American tradition of giving. 

Since the Woolsey Fire, the spirit of sharing has taken on many unique manifestations. Vintage Grocers in Westlake and the Arterie Art Studio, a creative space for children as well as adults, teamed up to sponsor Make for Malibu, a Dec. 16 ornament-making fundraising experience, with proceeds to benefit Malibu teachers, past and present, who lost their homes in the Woolsey Fire.  

Blick Art Materials provided the materials. The Arterie Art Studio also hosted a Dec. 9 ornament-making event.

The idea for the event was borne out of a desire to find a way to add joy to teachers’ lives and give them something tangible, according to Cara Franke, owner of the Arterie Art Studio, who is a teacher as well as an artist. 

Participants of all ages enjoyed taking a break from the holiday hustle and bustle to be creative and to give thanks and support to Malibu’s teachers.

Participants could make a Christmas tree out of buttons and thread; a wreath, one made of foil and one made with eucalyptus leaves; some adorable Santa hats; and a Christmas tree scene, among other decorative accoutrements.

Tina Kay Jennings, co-creator of a GoFundMe account established to support 24 past and present Malibu educators who lost their homes in the Woolsey Fire, participated in the Dec. 9 event. Jennings found great strength and solace in making decorations.

“I thought it was a great way for people who were not directly affected by the fire to get involved by making decorations, either for themselves or for someone who lost their decorations in the fire,” Jennings said. “It was more meaningful than just making a monetary donation and, for me, as somebody who has been so locked up in efforts to help support those who lost everything and who has been helping to liaise as they try to get support, it felt terrific to make decorations. The therapeutic aspect of the exercise was great.”  

Children loved the experience.

“I had a really great time making ornaments with my friend, and it was for a great cause,” said Cate Darpino. “We were evacuated [from our home] during the fire, but we didn’t lose our home. I hope that everyone who did lose their home still has a great holiday.” 

When one is struggling to cope after literally losing everything and is trying to establish some semblance of a new life, one is not necessarily focused on holiday extravagances such as Christmas decorations. Yet, oftentimes, little things add a touch of joy. 

“To see children who were making decorations for their teachers was heartening,” Jennings said. “Teachers are always giving and it was nice to see the children giving back to teachers.”

The GoFundMe page highlights the giving nature of teachers, stating, “These are people who have spent their whole careers supporting Malibu children and families. These are the people who will return to work to continue nurturing students now devastated by what they’ve lost in the fire. They will nurture, as they always do, when they are the ones that need our nurturing.” 

As of Friday, Dec. 21, the GoFundMe page had raised $68,175 of its $360,000 goal.

For its part, Vintage Grocers was happy to provide a venue for the fundraiser.

“Vintage Grocers supports Malibu schools throughout the year, so participating in this event was an easy decision,” said Melissa Darpino, director of marketing. “We hope displaced Malibu educators find homes as soon as possible.”

For more information on supporting Malibu teachers, visit or email