On the left, 826 Valencia, home to Young Authors' Workshop, on the right, James Choi, owner of Rhea's Deli

At 10 o’clock this morning, James Choi, owner of Rhea’s Deli, was busy making 30 sandwiches behind the counter. He had learned that his neighbor, the nonprofit literacy program 826 Valencia, was in need.

Twenty-three high school students started the group’s Young Authors’ Workshop last Monday. The week-long class is free to students and includes a daily lunch. For the past few summers a grant has paid for the meals, but this year the grant money ran out and 826 Valencia had to solicit donations. That’s when Rhea’s Deli stepped in and donated sandwiches for the rest of the week.

“We are glad to do lunches for 826,” said Choi. “It feels like a homegrown place here on Valencia. I think there should be more places like it. 826 really creates a neighborhood. We are super glad to help out.”

Choi hard at work behind the deli counter this morning

Lauren Hall, 826 Valencia’s programs director, said the group asked neighborhood establishments for a partial discount or anything they could give. Choi offered to make sandwiches for all of the kids for the camp’s remaining days — 90 sandwiches in all.

“They get so much business at lunch, it is awesome that they are giving this to us,” said Miranda Tsang, 826 Valencia’s communications manager.

Both Hall and Tsang love buying their own lunches from Rhea’s, and this just strengthens the goodwill. “I love that when I call they answer the phone with, ‘Hi, Miranda,’ before I even say anything,” said Tsang.

“It is meaningful because we save money that can go elsewhere, but also it generates goodwill,” Hall said. “Rhea’s establishes community. They know your name. I wave and say hi to everyone I see from there.”

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