Her grandmother and Sandra’s grandmother were sisters, and she saw Sandra on a regular basis. When Sandra was found dead in a suitcase after several days after she was reported missing, Anderson was devastated.
“We spent a lot of time together,” the 43-year-old recalled Tuesday, March 5. “I felt like I knew who Sandra was — she’d come over and we’d celebrate parties and such.”
Almost a year later, when what would have been the little girl’s ninth birthday approached, Anderson decided to do something positive for her family, rather than simply recall her grief.
She enlisted her friend Joyce Shepherd to start Tracy Celebrates Children, a community-wide event that remembers Sandra by providing fun activities for children and promotion for local businesses.
“I wanted to put on such a positive
thing so they can see Sandra still gives back,” Anderson said. “I think it cheers them up.”
The third annual Tracy Celebrates Children is Friday, March 8 — the day Sandra would have turned 12. The daylong event has grown to include more than 19 business and nonprofit partners at 15 locations around Tracy.
“This year I wasn’t sure there was going to be support, but I was pleasantly wrong,” said Anderson, a realtor and owner of ABS Alarm Co. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
Shepherd, 50, said it was important to make Tracy Celebrates Children a happy rather than somber affair. That goal led to the inclusion of local businesses to boost the community that supported Sandra’s family during its 2009 ordeal.
“It’s just a more positive way to remember things,” she said. “This was more than something just for kids — it’s something for our local economy. It’s kind of a win-win we’ve set up here.”
Separate events will take place from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. One of the biggest, Anderson said, is the Child Safety Zone from 3 to 5 p.m. in the parking lot of West Valley Bowl, 2365 East St.
Families can get information about home safety, get fingerprint and DNA identification kits, obtain child IDs, check if child car seats have been properly installed and more. The Tracy fire and police departments are running the safety fair.
Herb Hunter, general manager of West Valley Bowl, said he would have helped under any circumstances. He called the efforts of Anderson and Shepherd and the community buy-in “fantastic.”
But the fact that Sandra was his next-door neighbor in Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park makes the cause especially close to Hunter’s heart.
“I’d be washing my car, and she’d want to help,” said the 72-year-old. “That was Sandra.”
In addition to remembering Sandra, Hunter said the event is a great opportunity for people to support their neighbors by visiting local businesses.
Anderson said business owners who participated in the past were eager for the event to continue.
“They wanted to come back, because it gave them exposure,” she said. “As a business owner, I know exposure can lead to return business.”
Both Anderson and Shepherd hope Tracy Celebrates Children continues as a tradition in its own right, reminding the community of Sandra while celebrating and benefitting the city’s future generations.
“Sandra was like everyone’s child,” Shepherd said. “We’re really proud of what it’s grown into.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 835-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A day to celebrate
• 9 to 10:30 a.m.: Gymnastics open house at Classics Gymnastics, 3602 Mars Way, Ste. 113.
• 9 to 11:45 a.m.: Dance classes at Starlight Studio, 543 W. Grant Line Road, Ste. 153.
• 11 to 11:30 a.m.: Martial arts and an obstacle course at James Reed’s Tae Kwon Do, 503 W. Larch Road, Ste. E.
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Fingernail painting at LaFleurs Nails and Spa, 1924 W. Grant Line Road.
• 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Arts, crafts and Head Start information at Keller Williams Realty and McKinley Village Child Development Center, North Tracy Boulevard and Grant Line Road.
• 1 to 1:30 p.m.: Story time and cookies at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 3150 Naglee Road.
• 1 to 3 p.m.: One free ice cream scoop for kids 12 and younger at Baskin-Robbins, 965 S. Tracy Blvd.
• 3 to 5 p.m.: One free game of bowling for kids 12 and younger at West Valley Bowl, 2365 East St.
• 3 to 5 p.m.: Child Safety Fair, including child IDs, fingerprinting and DNA kits, D.A.R.E. information, child car-seat checks and giveaways, and water safety and Neighborhood Watch tips at West Valley Bowl, 2365 East St.
• 4 to 5 p.m.: Martial arts basics at James Reed’s Tae Kwon Do, 503 W. Larch Road, Ste. E
• 4 to 9 p.m.: Ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, folklorico, tumbling and acrobatics classes at Academy of Performing Arts, 124 W. 10th St. and 10th and B streets
• 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Sword sparring at Warrior Ways Martial Arts Studio, 1985 N. Tracy Blvd.
• 5 to 7 p.m.: One free 8-ounce frozen yogurt for kids 12 and younger and Miss Sparkles Delight at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, 1888 W. 11th St.
• 5 to 7 p.m.: Tasty treats, face painting and fun with Doodles the Clown at Golden Corral Restaurant, 2850 W. Grant Line Road
• 6 to 7 p.m.: A kids yoga class at Flow Yoga Studio, 3602 Mars Way, Ste. 125.
• 7 to 8:30 p.m.: High-energy Tahitian dance class at Lokes Looks Studio, 1195 W. 11th St.