Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in November


San Jose Veterans Day ParadeThe Halloween decorations are on the discount aisle, and the Christmas decorations are already up and blinking away at many retailers, so it must mean it’s November. Before we hurtle ourselves toward December holidays, let’s take a deep breath and focus on Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for what’s good in our lives, and share that thankfulness with others by making a difference in our communities.

Every month I suggest five ways to help others and build a stronger community. I hope you will consider trying at least one of these suggestions in November. Follow the links in each item to find out more.

1. Support Our Veterans: Veterans Day is Monday, Nov. 11, and there are numerous events taking place around the Bay Area to honor and support our veterans. One unique way is through “Operation Laughter”, a comedy show on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the De Anza Hotel in downtown San Jose. The show features two comedians who call themselves “The Joint Chief of Laffs”, and includes cocktails, appetizers, and a raffle. Proceeds go to help the Walking Point Foundation, which helps Iraq and Afghanistan war vets through the expressive and performing arts. Also in San Jose on Sunday, Nov. 10, is the National Veterans Day Run, on the Guadalupe River Trail. Proceeds go to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which helps the spouses and children of soldiers killed or wounded in war. On the actual day itself is the 95th annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown San Jose, starting at 11 a.m. San Francisco’s 94th annual Veterans Day Parade also starts at 11 a.m., at the intersection of Second and Market streets.

2. Soften the Blow: On Nov. 1 an estimated 250,000 Bay Area people receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, called CalFresh in California; what used to be known as food stamps) had those benefits cut at the federal level, at least for now. You can help local hungry neighbors by donating to food banks this month and through the holidays. Go to to link to the food bank in your area. Donate money online, or find out where to drop off food. Consider running your own food drive this holiday season at work, school, or in your neighborhood. Or take the $4.50 a day hunger challenge by eating on that amount each day, about what an individual on SNAP receives, for a week. Calculate what you would have spent on food and donate the difference.

3. Share Some Warmth: Many small nonprofits are in need of some extra help with in-kind donations this fall and winter. For example, Faith In Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter, which offers homeless men a place to stay at local churches while they look for work and permanent housing, needs coats, gloves, hats, scarves, and socks (full disclosure: I volunteer for this group). Contact a local charity you care about and find out the greatest needs, and then start a small drive in your neighborhood, place of work, or school. Make up simple flyers advertising what you’re collecting and why, and provide a link to the charity you’re helping. Create a place for people to drop off donations, and set a deadline in the near future. After you collect and deliver the donations, let donors know how much was collected and thank them for their participation.

4. Practice Kindness: Celebrate kindness with people from all over the world on Wednesday, Nov. 13, World Kindness Day. Perform a random act of kindness for someone “just because.” Check out our Be Kind: Kindness Ideas page for ideas.

5. Trot on Turkey Day: Earn that turkey by starting off Thanksgiving Day running or walking while raising money for worthy charities, or building community. One of the largest fundraising races in the region is the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, which has raised more than $3 million for local charities over the years. Other Thanksgiving races that focus on fun, health, and bonding include  Turkey Trail Trot XI in San Francisco, and Nitro Turkey Thanksgiving Run in Pinole.