Plan Ahead to Avoid Deadly Mix of Drinking, Driving

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Keeping Bay Area roadways safe for all this New Year’s Eve is as easy as planning ahead to avoid mixing drinking and driving, and local MADD-Logo-Don't-Drink-And-Drive-Plan-Ahead-to-Avoid-Deadly-Mix-of-Drinking-Drivingorganizations are offering tips and services to help.

MADD Safe Party Guide

A one-page online guide from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) offers lots of great tips for planning a party that keeps guests from leaving your party under the influence. Helps hosts through the pre-planning process, as well as what to do during, and at the end of parties.

Designated Drivers

If you’re going out to a party with a group, designate one member as the one who will not drink any alcohol for the evening, and drive the rest of the group home safely at the end of the night. Click on the link above for MADD’s info on designated drivers, as well as downloadable coupons to present as gifts to friends when you’re willing to serve as the designated driver.

AAA Tipsy Tow

This AAA program in California, Nevada, and Utah, offers free 10-mile tows to anyone who asks on New Year’s Eve.Participants do not have to be members of AAA to use the service. It will be offered from 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1. Call 800-222-4357 [Read more…]

Give an End-of-Year Donation to Our Virtual Food Drive to Combat Hunger

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As the clock ticks away toward the end of 2012, we all have an opportunity to make some last minute end-of-year tax deductible donations. There Second Harvest Food Drive 2012are thousands of great causes out there to support, but I’m asking you today to consider combating the challenge of hunger in the community by making a donation to the Good Neighbor Stories Virtual Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

This is the second year I’ve sponsored the virtual drive to feed hungry families in the Silicon Valley. I support Second Harvest, because I’ve seen firsthand the work the organization does. It delivers healthy food throughout the valley in a very efficient manner. According to Second Harvest leaders, each $1 donated provides two healthy meals.

Even better, in December each $1 donated translates into $2, or four healthy meals, because of a grant from the Westley Foundation and Koret Foundation, up to $89,000.

Online giving to Second Harvest is very fast and easy. Consider making an end-of-year donation to the GNS virtual food drive today! Help me reach my goal of $1,500 in donations to combat hunger. Thank you!

 

 

26 Acts of Kindness Campaign Goes Viral

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A grassroots wave of people across the United States are performing millions of acts of kindness to honor the memory of the victims of the Dec. 26-acts-of-kindness-facebook-page-ann-curry-nbc-news14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT., after a single tweet by a national journalist.

“Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I’m in. If you are RT #20Acts,” was the tweet NBC News’ Ann Curry sent out soon after the shootings.

Within hours, thousands of people had tweeted in response; it quickly grew into 26 acts of kindness, to honor both the children and adults who died at the school. In a blog post, Curry said that there was some debate to make it 27 acts, to include Nancy Lanza, shooter Adam Lanza’s mother. Some even suggested making it 28, since Adam himself was struggling with mental illness.

The popular sentiment of 26 acts of kindness stuck, however, and over the last couple of weeks has gained in popularity. Besides the official 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook Page, many more unofficial pages, or pages for specific communities, are springing up. A Twitter account was also established, @26acts.

All over social media people are reporting their acts of kindness, from handing out cash to strangers, to paying for people’s coffee or meals, to baking cakes and cookies for others, to donating money to organizations, and much more.

If you’re feeling motivated to get involved in the 26 Acts of Kindness campaign, Good Neighbor Stories has a large number of ideas for you to choose from. Check out our Be Kind: Kindness Ideas or More Ways to be a Good Neighbor pages, or consider helping out one of the many organizations listed on our Be a Good Neighbor Page.

What acts of kindness will you perform to honor the children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary? Tell us in comments!

 

‘Leukemia Slayer’, Age 11, Plays Santa for Fellow Kids With Cancer

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Jacob Goeders, a.k.a. The Leukemia Slayer, a.k.a. Santa

Imagine being a kid stuck in a cancer ward at Christmastime, getting poked and prodded, feeling sick, and very often bored waiting for the next test or blood draw, while missing out on all the magic and fun of the season.

Jacob Goeders of Mountain View, CA., 11, doesn’t have to imagine, because he’s lived it. And because he knows what it’s like, Jacob is in his second year playing “Santa” to dozens of children at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto this week, delivering presents he purchased after raising money from Facebook friends, and friends of friends.

Two years ago on Dec. 2, Jacob was diagnosed with high risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, landing him in the Packard cancer ward during the holiday season. Christmas was suddenly upended for Jacob, his mom, Sherry, his dad, Todd, and his little brother Jordan, then age 4.

As the one-year anniversary of the diagnosis approached last year, Jacob got an idea: what if he asked all his friends to donate $1 so that he could buy Christmas presents for the other children on the cancer ward and bring them a little holiday cheer?

“I wanted to make other kids feel good, and I wanted to do something,” Jacob told me recently. “I felt good because I was helping other kids who were stuck in the hospital like I was.” [Read more…]

Commentary: Time to Show Up and Speak Up For Our Communities

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It’s time to show up and speak up. Too many of us have been quiet and inactive for too long when it comes to the dual public health and safety Newtown-ribbon-sandy-hook-12/14/12-speak-up-show-up-for-change-good-neigbor-storiescrises, gun violence, and mental illness. Too many of us have been in a type of waking slumber, waking up occasionally after nightmares like Columbine, Tuscon, Aurora, only to fall back asleep after some cry, ‘Too soon! Look away! Nothing will ever change anyway!’

Friday, Dec. 14, 2010, we woke up as a country to a terrible nightmare. The date “12/14” is now our “9/11” when it comes to the realization that we have been inactive for too long in dealing with our gun culture, as well as the very broken system that is supposed to help the mentally ill. The twin towers came down on Friday in Newtown, CT, and nothing must ever be the same.

Each of us as members of our communities, has a responsibility to make those communities strong and safe. We can’t wave it off and say, ‘someone else will do it.’ We all have to show up and speak up. [Read more…]

Help the Sandy Hook/Newtown Community

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In the wake of the unbelievable tragedy at the Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT. on Friday, Dec. 14, there is a tangible way for those of us far help-the-sandy-hook-newtown-communityaway to help the community.

The United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) and the Newton Savings Bank partnered soon after the shootings of students and staff at the school to create a fund that will directly help the Sandy Hook community, as well as others in the rest of Newton and surrounding areas impacted by the event.

To donate online, go to https://newtown.uwwesternct.org

Or you can send a check to:

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

Here’s an excerpt from the UWWC announcement:

United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) extends our most sincere condolences and prayers to all those families affected by the devastating events in Newtown/Sandy Hook, Connecticut. While the eyes of the world may be on Newtown/Sandy Hook, to our staff, volunteers and contributors, Newtown is home. We will stand with the community and everyone affected directly and indirectly by this senseless event as we face the days and weeks ahead.

“We are committed to providing support and resources where and when they become identified and needed,” said United Way of Western Connecticut CEO Kim Morgan. “I have been in touch with United Ways across the country who have responded to similar tragedies within their communities in an effort to identify best practices in dealing with the short term and long term needs that our community will face. We will work directly with the community to determine the best ways to support the families of the victims.”

As people from our area and beyond respond to this heartbreaking tragedy, they are turning to United Way looking for ways to help.  In response, UWWC, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has created the Sandy Hook School Support Fund that will provide support services to the families and community affected by this senseless tragedy.

 

Let’s Be Helpers: Wise Words From Mr. Rogers in the Face of Tragedy

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“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who Fred Rogers With Kidsare helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mr. Rogers

Let’s be helpers.

Tell Friends About Good Neighbor Stories, Enter to Win a 2013 Datebook!

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You could be a winner in our end of the year promotion contest! To enter, ask your friends on Good-Neighbor-Stories-2013-Datebook-inspirational-calendar-contest-Pam-Marino-Reach-and-TeachFacebook or Twitter to “like” our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter. Make sure you tag us (@goodneighborstories for Facebook; @gnstories for Twitter). Double your chance to win by doing both! The contest ends at 12 midnight, PST, on Friday, Dec. 28.

For helping introduce us to more new neighbors, you’ll be entered to win a copy of the Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook! The datebook features uplifting stories and photos from the Good Neighbor Stories website, as well as inspirational quotes, and reminders for all the major holidays. Use for yourself as a calendar, or perhaps a gratitude journal, or give as a gift to make someone’s New Year bright.

Peace and Understanding at Palo Alto Holiday Fair

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Last year when I attended the Holiday Peace and Social Justice Craft and Info Fair at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, little did I know Ruth_Mutch_Wendy_Leonard_Sharon_Leonard_Ilhangane_Project_Holiday_Peace_and_Social_Justice_Fair_Palo_Altothat one year later I’d be behind one of the many booths which offer some small way to make the world a better place.

On Sunday among the tables in the long, bright multipurpose room selling everything from Fair Trade olive oil and coffee, to beaded necklaces and ornaments, to scarves and hats in every hue, I was selling the Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook. It was a great day of meeting new people, hearing about wonderful local organizations, and making some great contacts for future stories.

In between talking to people at my booth, I managed to sneak in some holiday shopping. I picked up some adorable beaded ornaments for friends (and myself), and another beautiful gift I will remain mum on in case someone I know is reading this post 😉 . They came from a booth run by Limitless Horizons Ixil, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for indigenous youth, women, and families of Chajul, Guatamala.

The annual fair was co-sponsored by the church and the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.  More photos after the jump. [Read more…]

Our List of Bay Area Toy Drives; Santa Needs Those Donations ASAP

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Click here for the 2014 list!

UPDATE 12/17/12: the deadlines coming up this week and beyond are highlighted.

There are only 13 more shopping days until Christmas, but for most toy drives in the San Francisco Bay area, the deadline is looming over the Sandwich_Spot_Redwood_City_ChiPs_For_Kids_Toy_Drive_Donationsnext several days to ensure less fortunate children and teens receive gifts in time for the holiday.

If you’re already out shopping, consider picking up a new toy, or grabbing an extra gift card (much easier for teens), to donate to one of the many drives. Here’s our extensive list of local holiday toy drives, their drop-off locations, needs, and deadlines, organized by area.

For donating new or like-new books, check out our previous post on the Gift of Reading, which has drop-offs mostly in the South Bay, with one in Redwood City. Deadline is Sunday, Dec. 16.

Can’t drop off a toy or book? Click on the name of the organization to go to its website (if available); many are taking online donations, or provide addresses for sending checks.

Know of a toy drive we missed? Tell us in the comments. [Read more…]