Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in January

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Happy New Year! The world didn’t end in 2012, and the even better news is we get a fresh start in 2013. How will you make this new year better than the last for yourself, andNational-Mentoring-Month-Five-Ways-to-be-a-Good-Neighbor-in-January-2013 for the community? Here are five suggestions to make the world just a little nicer in the month of January. Try one, and let us know what happens!

1. Be a Mentor: January is National Mentoring Month, a time to highlight how important it is for every child to have a caring adult in his or her life. The awareness month is spearheaded nationally by the Harvard School of Public Health; Bay Area Mentoring is leading local awareness efforts. Thursday, Jan. 10, is “I Am a Mentor Day”, when all mentors are encouraged to go on social media to tell their stories, and inspire others to become mentors. Thursday, Jan. 17, is “Thank Your Mentor Day,” for anyone helped by a mentor in childhood to share his or her story. Keep up with the latest on the National Mentoring Month Facebook Page. To find out how to become a mentor in the San Francisco Bay Area, be sure to visit the Bay Area Mentoring website.

2. Donate Blood: January is National Blood Donor Month, established in 1970. The holiday season usually means less blood donations, because of holiday [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in December

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It’s December, which means it’s holiday time, when many people feel that tug to spread good cheer to others. We’ve got five ways you can indulge in the spirit of giving this month. If you’ve got additional ideas, please share in the comments!

Jacob-Goeders-The-Leukemia-Slayer-Santa-Slayer-Christmas-fund-drive

Jacob Goeders, a.k.a the Leukemia Slayer, in December 2011.

1. Give to a Holiday Drive:Some people love the tradition of giving at the holidays, others are looking for an end-of-year tax deduction. Whatever the reason, you can help a lot of people in need have a brighter season by contributing to a holiday drive, either with goods or cash. One of our favorite fundraisers, Jacob Goeders, a.k.a. The Leukemia Slayer, is raising money for the second year in a row for his Santa Slayer Project. This young man uses money donated to the project to buy gifts for other children on the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital cancer ward, where he himself is being treated for leukemia. But you need to hurry, Jacob needs to finish up shopping soon. Other charities are collecting items like socks, bedding, or coats. Still others could really use gift cards to give to clients, or cash donations to buy what is most needed. Look for food donation barrels at stores and other locations to help local food banks combat hunger at the holidays. Or donate to the Good Neighbor Stories Virtual Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Our goal is to raise $1,500 by Jan. 1, 2013.

2. Give the Gift of Time: If you’re low on cash and items to share, consider volunteering your time this month. The United Way of Silicon Valley is looking for volunteers to help spread holiday cheer to the children of East San Jose. Every child at four schools will receive presents from their wish list, along with a book to encourage reading skills. Younger siblings will also receive gifts. Sign up for a shift today before all the spaces are filled. Find more volunteer opportunities at HandsOn Bay Area, and One Brick Silicon Valley.

3. Consider Giving Alternative Gifts: If you’re scratching your head wondering what to give as gifts this year, consider alternative gifts that both honor those you are giving to, and make a difference in the world. Alternative gifts range from donations made in the recipient’s name, to items purchased from nonprofits and companies focused on social justice. A great place to shop for gifts in person is the Holiday Peace and Social Justice Craft and Info Fair, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, 1140 Cowper St., Palo Alto (I’ll be there selling the Good Neighbor Stories 2013 Datebook!). Or, “shop” online at Alternative Gifts International, which has been providing gifts of food, shelter, trees, animals, medicine, and more, since 1986. Pick from 30 different projects located all over the world (including the U.S.) to support in honor of your friend or loved one. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor at Thanksgiving

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It’s the Thanksgiving edition of our “Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor” series, with five suggestions of how you can be be a good neighbor in honor of one of America’s most treasured holidays. What better way to show how thankful you are by paying it forward to someone else?

1. Donate a Turkey – Today!: The latest news is that there is a serious turkey shortage at food banks and organizations around the Bay Area that provide the traditional bird to families in need. On Tuesday, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties announced it was nearly 6,000 turkeys short of its goal of 12,000 donations. Sacred Heart Community Services in San Jose said it needed nearly 4,000 more turkeys. To donate, buy frozen and deliver (still frozen) to the agency of your choice. See the bottom of this post for a list of groups asking for donations. And don’t forget these agencies also need non-perishable fixings to go with the turkey, so consider an additional donation of some canned goods.

2. Invite an “Orphan” to Dinner: Set an extra place at the table for someone you know is going to be alone this Thanksgiving. Make them feel welcome and part of the celebration.

3. Mend a Relationship: Don’t go through another holiday harboring hard feelings toward a family member, close friend or neighbor. Offer a sincere apology, if necessary, and work toward forgiving past transgressions. Don’t try to control the outcome of your interactions; just focus on the good, and let go of any expectations. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in November

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There are many, many ways to be a good neighbor in your neighborhood, larger community, and the world, in the month of November, but I’m focusing on just five here. Two have a military theme, another two encourage supporting local crafters and artisans, as well as small businesses, and the fifth shines a light on World Kindness Week.

Before I do, this November is a big presidential election month; check out earlier posts on how to be a good neighbor at election time. Number one is voting, and next is getting along with others both online and off while discussing political viewpoints.

I also shared a short list of where to donate to help victims of Superstorm Sandy, another good thing to do in November. Later this month, look for a post on “Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor at Thanksgiving.”

In the meantime, here are the five general ways I’m suggesting this month.

  1. Honor Our Veterans: Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day; show you care by attending a local Veterans Day parade or event. The largest Veterans Day parade in Northern California is in downtown San Jose. A special ceremony takes place “at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” at Plaza de Cesar Chavez on Market Street, in honor of the 1918 Armistice of the “War to End All Wars.” The Parade begins at noon, traveling [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in October

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Like those fun Russian nesting dolls, tucked inside each one of our five ways to be a good neighbor tips are even more ideas on how to Pink for Octobermake your community a much better place. Take a peek, see what ideas pique your interest, and do good!

Know some more ways? Leave ideas in the comment section, or drop us a line and let us know about ideas in October, November, and beyond.

1. Go Pink: If you’re noticing pink ribbons cropping up everywhere, it’s because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nonprofits, health groups, government agencies, and businesses are banding together to promote awareness of the disease, raise funds for research, and provide greater access to diagnosis and treatment. Events are taking place all month, like El Camino Hospital’s Girls’ Night Out on Oct. 23, in Los Gatos, or the TREK Breast Cancer Awareness Ride on Oct. 13, in Los Altos. You can even bowl for breast cancer awareness in a special league in Milpitas; proceeds throughout the month go to fund Susan G. Komen For the Cure. On Oct. 27 the American Cancer Society is presenting the 5th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, in San Jose. For even more ideas, check out this local Patch.com story. For early detection cancer screening for low income women, see the Every Woman Counts page on the California Department of Health Services website.

2. Walk On: Speaking of walking, besides the aforementioned breast cancer walk, there are a number of charity walks happening in the Bay Area this month. Consider raising money for a good cause, while at the same time meeting friendly people and getting some exercise along the way. Upcoming charity walks include the Bay Area Leadership Foundation Fourth Annual Walk for Leadership in Oakland on Oct. 6, to benefit deserving youth going to college, the Walk for Farm Animals in San Francisco on Oct. 13, promoting compassionate treatment of farm animals, and the Bay Area Walk/Run for Food Allergies in Memory of BJ Hom, also on Oct. 13, in San Jose, to support the Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). On Oct. 14 walkers can support the American Diabetes Association at the  Step Out: Walk to End Diabetes  in San Jose. And on Oct. 20 it’s the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, in San Jose.

3. Be Festive: Fall seems to bring out the festivals, so take advantage of the chance to make new friends in your community. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in August

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Every month I highlight five ways to be a good neighbor either right where you live or in the community at large. Have any more suggestions to add? Share them in the comments section!

I’m also interested in hearing suggestions for future months. Feel free to contact me, or use our free community calendar listing.

1. Say “Aloha”: Enjoy the spirit of the Hawaiian Islands with both old and new friends at the 17th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Aloha Festival, August 4 and 5. The event is organized by the Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association, bringing together entertaining dancers, arts and crafts displays, island cuisine, kids’ activities, and much more. The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo. Admission is free.

2. Spend a Night Out With Neighbors: Tuesday, Aug. 7, is the 29th Annual National Night Out, a community awareness campaign that stresses crime prevention, anti-crime activities, and the overall strengthening of neighborhood ties. Neighborhoods and cities all over the Bay Area are hosting activities from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The City of Cupertino is even hosting some pre-evening activities, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Target parking lot, 20745 Stevens Creek Blvd. Check the National Night Out map to see if your neighborhood is participating. At the very least you can leave your porch light on from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., or get a little more ambitious and invite your neighbors over for an impromptu gathering. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in July

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Celebrate America’s independence by being a good neighbor this month! Here are five ways to give back to the community during July.

1) Party With Your Neighbors: If you’re home this Fourth of July plan an impromptu block party by inviting neighbors over for a barbecue or simple potluck. Or, find out what your city is doing to celebrate, and make a point of joining in the fun and getting to know more people from your community. For example, in Cupertino there’s a pancake breakfast, children’s parade, and concert in the park from 7 a.m. to noon at the Quinlan Community Center, 10185 N. Stelling Rd. Then in the evening there’s fireworks, with music and games from 6:45 until the big show starts at 9:30. Catch all the fun at either Creekside Park, 10455 Miller Ave., Hyde Middle School, 19325 Bollinger Rd., or Sedgwick Elementary, 19200 Phil Lane.

2) Sort Food for the Hungry: Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties has a brand new warehouse in San Jose to facilitate getting more food out to those who need it most as quickly as possible. The 75,000 square foot facility at 4001 N. First St., is called [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in June

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Time to kick off the summer with five ways to be a good neighbor in your community.

1) Duck!: The 5th annual Silicon Valley Duck Race is Sunday, June 10. The El Camino Hospital Foundation will launch 15,000 rubber ducks into Vasona Creek at Vasona Lake Park, 333 Blossom Hill Rd., Los Gatos, as part of a fundraising race. You can adopt a duck for $5, a family of ducks for $25, a club for $50, and a flock for $100. The first five ducks that reach the finish line in Lake Vasona win prizes, and one duck may even win $1 million. The monies raised go to El Camino Hospital Los Gatos, a not-for-profit, acute-care, full service hospital that serves the communities of Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, and San Jose. The race is accompanied by a festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lots of activities, food, information booths, and more.

2) Share Your Lunch: Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is once again urging us to share our lunches with local children who are at risk to go hungry this summer. Officials estimate that one in five children need some sort of support through the summer months, when they don’t have access to free or subsidized school lunches. [Read more…]

Five Ways to Be a Good Neighbor in May

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Every month we give you five ways to be a good neighbor. Consider them little nudges to break out of your routine and think and act positively outward toward the community around you. We love to hear your suggestions of how you’re being a good neighbor, so please leave a comment or contact us.

Here are five suggestions for May, 2012.

1. Ride a Bike!: May is National Bike Month; to celebrate there are events around the Bay Area and nationally to get more people out of their cars. Nationally, Bike to Work Week is happening May 14-18, culminating with National Bike to Work Day on the 18th. The inaugural National Bike to School Day is May 9, according to The League of American Cyclists. In San Francisco and other Bay Area communities the 18th annual Bike to Work Day is Thursday, May 10. Bicyclist organizations all over the region are planning events that day, like special energizer stations along commuting routes. Consider joining in on the fun that day as a way to improve your health, the planet’s health, and interact with others in the community. You can also form a team of up to five people for the Team Bike Challenge or Company Bike Challenge, and rack up miles all month to earn points and potentially win prizes.

2. Be Kind to Animals: May 6-12 is Be Kind to Animals Week. The East Bay SPCA is sponsoring a photo contest for photos of “Kind Kids” posing with animals. The Humane Society of Silicon Valley is conducting a class on how to raise orphan kittens on Monday, May 7 (reservations required). They also have a class on Thursday, May 10,  “Helping Homeless Cats and Your Community”, for people who want to find out more about how to help homeless kitties. [Read more…]

Five Ways to Be a Good Neighbor in April

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It’s April, which means spring is now in full swing. Opportunities to be a good neighbor around Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are sprouting as fast as seedlings in the warm sun.

Here are five ways to do good for others (and yourself) this month.

1. Drive Focused: April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The California Highway Patrol and other local departments plan on cracking down on distracted driving all month as a way to bolster public awareness of this dangerous problem. Using a cell phone while driving—hand-held or hands-free—delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent, according to one university study. And text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Find out more at Distraction.gov. In the meantime, officials want everyone to take the pledge to drive distraction free, and to encourage others to do the same.

2. Knit for a Cause: A group of people who love to knit and crochet get together regularly to create hats and scarves for Sacred Heart Community Services. Called One Brink Knits, it’s a part of the One Brick Silicon Valley group that helps connect volunteers with service projects. Don’t know how to knit or crochet? [Read more…]