Consumers laud Simitian


Fire departments urge safety

Cal Fire and Santa Cruz Central Fire District remind residents to observe safety precautions when they use fireplaces, wood stoves, candles, lights and other hazards this season.

Hot coals and embers can be concealed in fireplace ash and smolder for hours. When disposing of ashes, always use a metal can with a lid and store the container outside away from your home and combustible materials.

According to Cal Fire, 166 Christmas tree fires were reported and there were an additional 100 fires reported that were caused by decorations in 2009. Cal Fire recommends keeping trees at least three feet away from heat sources. Use outdoor lights and indoor lights in the appropriate manner, and inspect light strands each year for frayed wires and cracked sockets. Also, remember to never leave lit candles unattended.

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Fundraiser helps local children

Children whose families could not afford to buy them new shoes will get a pair for free, thanks to a partnership between Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center and Payless ShoeSource.

Coupons good for Payless shoes will be distributed to children of families in the Head Start, Early Head Start, and First Five Starlight Infant/Toddler Program. The local agency is one of 800 charitable organizations chosen as a partner for Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids, which will give away $1.2 million in new shoes this year.

"The families that we serve often have to go without such important necessities as a well-fitting pair of shoes for their young children,"