Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in June

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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...]

Silicon Valley Gives Raises $7.9 Million in 24 Hours

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photo-81The first Silicon Valley Gives appears to be a rousing success, bringing in $7.9 million for more than 650 local charities on a single day. More than 14,600 unique donors made 21,500 donations to more than 650 nonprofits in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

The fundraiser came together over several months, organized by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation as a 100th anniversary celebration of community foundations. It was sponsored by Microsoft, the Knight Foundation, the Sobrato Foundation, Razoo, and dozens of other businesses and foundations. Razoo served as the online giving platform for the single-day giving event. [Read more...]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in May

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Silicon Valley GivesApril showers bring…weeds! I was greeted by a whole new crop of weeds at my community garden plot this week. My May will include heavy doses of weed pulling, digging, and finally planting vegetable and flower seedlings for a summer/fall harvest. In between weeding and digging sessions, I’ll also be taking part in some community-building activities.

What about you? What will you be doing to make your world a better place this month? I’ve got five suggestions for you right here.

1. Make Silicon Valley Giving History: Tuesday, May 6, marks the first Silicon Valley Gives, a single-day online fundraising event for several hundred nonprofits in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is organizing the drive, in honor of the 100th anniversary of community foundations. The day is in part modeled after the wildly successful #GivingTuesday, which launched nationally the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2012 and grew exponentially in 2013. By concentrating efforts on raising money on a single day to a single fundraising platform, smaller nonprofits benefit from the wave of publicity generated by the event. Find your favorite valley charity on Razoo.com and give a donation on May 6. [Read more...]

Leukemia Slayer Defeats Cancer, Will Keep Helping Other Kids

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The Leukemia Slayer has conquered cancer, or in his words, he, “kicked cancer’s butt!”

Jacob Goeders Slays Leukemia

Jacob Goeders letting his 10,000+ fans on Facebook know his bone marrow is free from cancer.

The 12-year-old Slayer, a.k.a. Mountain View resident Jacob Goeders let his more than 10,000 Facebook fans know recently that he is cancer-free after a battle lasting 3 years and 3 months.

In his usual friendly and non-capitalized style, Jacob wrote on The Leukemia Slayer Facebook Page, “hello it is the leukemia slayer well it is official i have slayed leukemia!!!!!!! i was so happy to hear my dr come in and say who in this room has clear bone marrow? that would be me!!”

I had the great privilege of meeting Jacob in December 2011 at a Christmas party in Mountain View for kids with cancer and their families. He told me about his “Santa Slayer” project, where he asked his then 2,000 Facebook fans to each send $1 so he could buy holiday gifts for the other sick kids on the cancer ward at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Despite being in the fight of his life, all he could think about was how crummy it was for other kids to be in a cancer ward at Christmastime. He himself had spent a good chunk of December 2010 in that same ward, immediately after being diagnosed.

[Read more...]

Peninsula Book Stores Collecting Books for Women Prisoners

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Former state assemblywoman Sally Lieber and Reach and Teach co-owner Craig Wiesner.

Several Peninsula independent book sellers are asking people to donate new and slightly used books and magazines to give women in state prisons some positive and engaging material to read.

The stores, along with a Palo Alto real estate office and Sunnyvale City Hall, are currently collecting books through May 15. Boxes at seven locations are available for people to drop off donations (click on “more” link below).

“More than two-thirds of the women in state prison are non-violent offenders and more than two-thirds are mothers. Any reading material that engages the mind and broadens horizons will help,” according to Craig Wiesner, co-owner of Reach and Teach in San Mateo.

Books needed include how-to books, quality fiction from diverse writers, and biographies. Paperbacks are strongly preferred. Only paperback textbooks are accepted, and only if they are less than three years old and in good condition. Current, quality magazines, also in good condition, are also being accepted.

Especially needed are children’s picture books, easy reading books, young adult, and teen classics for youth, women with lower reading levels and children during visitation, as are unopened boxes of Crayola crayons and packs of construction paper. [Read more...]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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National Poetry Month 2014 PosterLike a pebble plunk

Making circles in a pond,

Good neighbors reach out.

Like my haiku? It’s in honor of National Poetry Month, one of many, many great things you can get involved in as a “good neighbor” in your community. Pick one of these five suggestions and reach out!

1. Celebrate Poetry: As I said, April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate an important and cherished art form. Libraries and poets laureate all over the Bay Area are marking the month with special events and displays to help people interact with reading and creating poetry. Folks at the Oakland Public Library decorated the staircases from top to bottom with poems created by Oakland Youth Poet Laureates, California poets, and children’s poets. In Cupertino the Poet Laureate has launched a Poetry Exchange, where people can see new poems daily, or contribute their own poems. Contact your local library to find out what special events are happening in your city. [Read more...]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March

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ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-tree-plantings-good-neighbor-stories-pam-marinoRain, finally! The dust and dirt that was building up on all the shrubs, trees and outdoor surfaces is washed away, giving the feeling of a fresh start. Spring is just a couple of weeks away, so put winter behind you and start something new that will make your neighborhood and community a better place.

Here are five ways you can make a difference this month.

1. Spring Spruce Ups: Parks, open spaces and eco-friendly organizations are organizing outdoor clean-ups and plantings all month. The Golden Gate Audubon Society has several habitat restoration events on both sides of the bay, and Save the Bay has similar types of restoration and planting events open to volunteers. The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club is hosting a tree planting event in Oakland on March 8. Or check out the numerous events offered by Our City Forest in San  Jose.

2. Educate Yourself About Income Inequality: Silicon Valley De-Bug is hosting the Forum on Inequality in Silicon Valley from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, March 6, at the Camera 12 Theaters, 201 S. 2nd Street, San Jose. The award-winning website’s staff is bringing together community leaders to speak about the problem of income inequality, along with a local hip hop artist who is premiering a video, “Gold Out West,” for this free community event. [Read more...]

Technology Changing the Way You Read? Win Cash for Your Thoughts

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Silicon Valley Reads 2014 Essay and Poetry ContestHas technology changed the way you read for better? Worse? You, or someone you know from middle school to adult, can win cash by sharing your insights in an essay or poem in the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads essay and poetry contest, co-sponsored by the Cupertino Library and the Cupertino Library Foundation (CLF). The deadline is just four weeks away, on March 17.

The annual essay contest is open to Cupertino adults and teens in grades 9-12, and focuses on responses to a question springing forth from the two featured books from the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads program. This year’s book selections are: The Shallows: What is the Internet Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

This year’s essay contest question is: “Is technology changing the way you read and access information? Is this bad or good?” [Read more...]

The Kindness Challenge Day 5 and Beyond

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From the “Free Hugs Campaign” YouTube video.

In honor of Valentine’s Day and Day 5 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, today’s Kindness Challenge is to give an extra someone a hug. Yes, you are going to hug the ones you love (I hope), but why not extend a hug to someone you wouldn’t normally hug? There may be someone out there who really needs it.

“I have learned there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words,” novelist Ann Hood is quoted as  saying, and I know in my own life that’s been true. I don’t remember a word people said to me after my father passed away more than 20 years ago, but I do remember the hugs I was fortunate to receive. [Read more...]

The Kindness Challenge Day 4

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A few of Shannon Weber’s loveyou2.org notes.

Sometimes I think the massive onslaught of electronic messages we see all day long starts to blend together like some kind of digital stew in our brains. Bits and bytes start to swirl together and end up getting lost in the mix. So when an actual heartfelt paper message crosses our path, one that expresses authentic feeling—love, admiration, thanks, congratulations, encouragement—that stops us for a moment and stays with us for a long time. I guess electronic heartfelt messages stand out from the rest, too, but there is something about a note, card or good-old-fashioned letter that stands out as special.

Today’s Kindness Challenge, as part of Random Acts of Kindness Week, is to write a note, card or letter to someone. It could be someone you know now, someone from your past, or even a stranger. Is there a teacher you want to thank? An old friend you could share how you really feel about your friendship? A family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile? Or the very people you share a roof with? [Read more...]