Furry Good Neighbors at San Jose Airport Spread Cheer


Kyra Hubis and Henry James at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

“Henry is in the house!”

The shout out rises from jubilant TSA agents on many Monday mornings at Mineta San Jose International Airport, in San Jose, Calif., as regular visitor Henry James makes his way through security into Terminal B.

With a big smile—and a wagging tail—Henry signals his mutual excitement at seeing his fans. The 5-year-old golden retriever is on his way to his volunteer job as one of the airport’s 13 certified therapy dogs, greeting nervous, frazzled and even distraught passengers, and reducing employees’ stress levels. San Jose is reportedly the first airport to use therapy dogs, and inspired up to a dozen other U.S. airports to launch similar all-volunteer programs in the last two years. [Read more…]

Slow Down and Celebrate Earth Day


Did you miss all the Earth Day celebrations around the Bay Area over the weekend? No worries, since Earth Day is this Wednesday, April 22. You can still celebrate on your own, and I have good news for you: you don’t have to add anything to your schedule, only subtract. I’m re-running this post from April 2011 to explain how.

On this 41st Earth Day I have two words for how to be a good neighbor to the planet: SLOW DOWN.

Here are some ways slowing down will make each of us a better neighbor to the Earth. I start with the more obvious ways, and end with a way that may be a surprise. [Read more…]

‘Nix the Nuts’ Campaign Seeks to Increase Spaying, Neutering


Nix the Nuts HSSV Spay and Neuter CampaignUsing a very to-the-point message—”Nix the Nuts”—the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) is partnering with 20 local veterinary offices to provide reduced spay and neuter services throughout the month of February. Clients can receive up to 40% off the regular price of procedures in some cases.

“Increasing spay and neuter efforts at this time of year heads off hundreds of homeless litters in the spring and summer months,” says Dr. Cristie Kamiya, HSSV Chief of Shelter Medicine.

In addition, HSSV officials say there are a number of added benefits to spay or neuter your pets, like living a healthier and longer life. For example, it can completely eliminate the risk of testicular cancer in male animals and also reduce the risk of ovarian and other cancers in females. There is less desire for animals to roam, minimizing the interest to mate, spray or mark territory while also decreasing the chances of an accident with a vehicle and fights with neighboring animals.

The HSSV “Nix the Nuts” webpage, hssv.org/snmonth, lists where to find participating veterinary offices. Appointments can also be made with HSSV directly. Residents in several zip codes may even be eligible for free spaying and neutering services; see the webpage for more information. [Read more…]

Random Acts of Kindness Week 2015: Spread a Wave of Kindness Online


The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAKF) is encouraging people to commit 100,000 random acts of kindness by Sunday, Feb. 15, amplifying the kindness by sharing that act online to the world during International Random Acts of Kindness Week.YouTube Preview Image

“Imagine if for one week, all of your social media feeds were flooded with kindness. Uplifting news stories, inspiring quotes, kind comments…for one week everyone united to focus on the positive. That’s the goal of #RAKWeek,” the RAKF website states. The goal is for people to do an act of kindness, and then create a social media post using the hashtag #RAKWeek2015.

Now in it’s 20th year, International Random Acts of Kindness Week began Monday, Feb. 9, and continues through Sunday, Feb. 15. Millions of people around the world participate each year, including classroom students and teachers, community organizations, and individuals. The RAKF highlights dozens of kindness stories from RAK Week, as well as hundreds of kindness ideas, on its website.  [Read more…]

Project WeHOPE Expanding Services to House the Homeless


Pastor Paul Bains puts out the Warming Shelter sign at Project WeHOPE in East Palo Alto.

Housing more homeless and at-risk adults in East Palo Alto through its successful Supportive Housing Program is the main goal of Project WeHOPE in 2015, the organization recently announced.

“San Mateo is very fortunate to have a partnership with Project WeHOPE. They do a remarkable job at providing a welcoming place – a warm and safe place to sleep, a nutritious meal, and the company of others who are also going through a rough patch in theirs lives,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum.

“Project WeHOPE lives up to its name. It gives the weary what they need to regroup and in doing so, helps them rekindle the hope they need for a better tomorrow. Thank you, Project WeHOPE,” said Slocum.

Launched in February 2014, the Supportive Housing Program started with a vision to give homeless clients the life tools to help them help themselves. It was well received by clients and the various county agencies involved, and as a result of its success, nearly 100 clients have been helped and over 20 have moved into permanent or supportive housing. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in the New Year


be-kind-everyone-you-meet-fighting-hard-battle-whoisplatoThe old year is put to bed, and the New Year is still waking up and getting started. As you rise up with it, consider some ways to make this year a little happier for you and those around you. You can make a difference in the lives of the people you come into contact with with only a small amount of effort. Here are five ways you can be a good neighbor this year. Can you suggest more?

1) Seek First to Understand: By now we’ve all seen the Internet memes out there with Plato’s quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard (or harder) battle.” Next time you encounter someone who seems like he or she is about to bite your head off, consider the person might be having a really bad day, or is going through a painful time. If it’s someone in a store or on the road, let them pass and silently wish them well. If it’s a friend, co-worker or family member, save the tart response and ask a few questions. Hey, are you having a bad day? What’s up?

2) Schedule in Chance Conversations: Years ago my neighbors told me it always looked like I was in a hurry to get somewhere. I [Read more…]

SF Bay Area Holiday Toy Drives are Waiting for Your Donations

toy-drives-bay area-silicon valley-holidays-toys for tots

Toys for Tots Poster, 1948

Make this holiday season even merrier by brightening the lives of Bay Area children with donations of toys, clothing, food, and other needed items. Dozens of nonprofits are waiting for people like you to drop by a new, unwrapped gift, or to make an online donation.

Below is an extensive list of San Francisco Bay Area holiday toy drives, their drop-off locations, needs, and deadlines, organized by area. Click on the links to visit organizations’ websites.

Can’t drop off a donation? Many are taking online donations, or will provide an address for checks.

Know of a toy drive we missed? Tell us below in the comments. We’ll update the list with new information as it comes in.

All Over the Bay Area

CHiPs For Kids  

What it is: Annual toy drive for kids in need conducted by the California Highway Patrol.

Needs: New, unwrapped toys; also accepting canned goods.

Deadline: Dec. 16

Drop-off Locations: Any Golden Gate Division CHP office, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Read more…]

It’s Time to Donate Turkeys


second-harvest-food-bank-turkey-donations-thanksgiving-holiday-givingBuying a turkey this weekend for your Thanksgiving table? Pick up one or two more frozen birds to donate to local charities, and while you’re at it, consider buying canned hams, canned soup and other nutritious nonperishable foods to help feed the more than 780,000 children and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area estimated to face hunger on a consistent basis.

Nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay Area are putting out the call for turkeys not only for Thanksgiving, but other holiday meals. On Friday, Nov. 21, officials from Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties announced they were only a little over halfway to their goal of collecting 13,000 turkeys.

Below is a list of agencies collecting turkey and other foods this holiday season. Did we miss one? Tell us in the comments section below.

Bay Area Food Banks

Find the food bank near you by visiting www.bayareahunger.org. The website represents seven food banks serving 11 Northern California counties. All the food banks are in need of frozen turkeys and other holiday meal staples.

Your donation could even win you a pair of tickets to see the 49ers play the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day if you donate frozen turkeys or chickens to Second Harvest by Monday, Nov. 24. 
[Read more…]

Leukemia Slayer Plays Santa For Fourth Year


Santa Slayer at the Four SeasonsJacob Goeders, the Leukemia Slayer, may have conquered cancer and moved clear across the country this year, but he’s not about to let go of his beloved annual Santa Slayer Project he started four years ago to buy Christmas gifts for other kids fighting the disease.

Jacob, 13, announced to Facebook fans on Tuesday, Nov. 18, that he’s repeating the Santa Slayer Project, asking for only $1 from each of his more than 10,500 fans. The money will go to buy gifts for children at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) in Palo Alto, as well as on the oncology ward at the Duke University Medical Center and the Ronald McDonald House, in Durham, North Carolina. Jacob’s family moved to the southern state from Mountain View earlier this year. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in June


Being a good neighbor is rewarding, but it does take some time and effort. Sometimes it’s spontaneous, like when you see someone who donut_grlneeds help carrying something, or someone who just needs a smile and kind word. But often it requires some planning, making space on the calendar, and digging into your pockets. Every month I give you five suggestions for community events, volunteer service events, and more. Put one of these on your June calendar, and then enjoy the rewards of helping others!

1. Share Some Fried Dough Goodness: Friday, June 6, is National Donut Day, originally started to commemorate the Salvation Army “Lassies,” young volunteer women who made and delivered fresh doughnuts to American soldiers in Europe during World War I and II. When the soldiers returned home they craved the sweet treats, and the rest of America was introduced to the doughnut. Krispy Kreme gives away a free doughnut to each customer (no purchase required), and many other doughnut shops are running their own specials. Make your friends and co-workers smile that day with a fresh, hot batch. Or make the day a little more meaningful than just calories by making a donation to the Salvation Army, to support the organization’s extensive community programs and disaster relief efforts. Entenmann’s, which makes 780 million doughnuts annually, is teaming up with the Salvation Army this year, by offering to donate $1 for every new “like” on its Facebook page during June, up to $30,000. [Read more…]