Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in September

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housing-one-housing-1000-silicon-valley-homelessness-five-ways-to-be-a-good-neighbor-september-2013Summer vacation is over and the rush into fall has officially begun. Before you rush ahead too far, consider carving out a little time to help others around you this month. Use one or more of our five suggestions below as a way to get started. Have more suggestions? Tell us in the comments section!

1. Help the Homeless: Cuts to Section 8 housing vouchers this month and sky high housing costs will most likely throw some Bay Area neighbors into homelessness, and will definitely keep those who are already homeless, and want to be housed, on the streets. Consider helping an organization in your community that is making significant progress in working to house people. Housing 1000 is a community campaign in the Silicon Valley that has been working the past two years to house 1,000 people by the end of 2013. As of July the campaign is still more than 50 percent away from that goal, but the efforts continue. You can help by visiting the Housing One website, where you can see stories of people Housing 1000 is helping and donate either toward specific clients, or more generally to the organization. For a sobering look at what we’re up against in the fight against homelessness in the Silicon Valley, see the Business Insider’s recent special report on the issue.

2. Volunteer in Honor of 9/11: Sept. 11 was declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance in 2009 to honor the fallen from the [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…]

It’s World Kindness Day! What Will You do to be Kind?

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Today around the world people are celebrating World Kindness Day, part of World Kindness Week, Nov. 12-18. What will you do to be

Courtesy of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

kind to someone else today, or during this special week?

Here are five ways to show kindness today, and throughout the week:

  1. Do something simple today, like smiling at people you pass by, letting someone in on the roadway, contacting a friend going through a tough time to offer a cheery “hello”, or offering to pay the meal of the person behind you in the drive through lane. For even more kindness ideas, see the Good Neighbor Stories Be Kind: Kindness Ideas Page.
  2. Donate food for a holiday food drive, or support a local hunger program. Look for donation barrels for Second Harvest Food Bank at area stores and businesses, or consider donating a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving.  The Front Door Ministry of the First Presbyterian Church of San Jose serves bag lunches to around 45 homeless people each day.  You can help by donating things like paper and plastic bags, or individual-sized lunch items like sandwich cracker kits, fruit cups, bags of nuts, etc. [Read more…]

Still Time to Observe Day of Service and Remembrance

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As I hung my flag outside my home this morning, it took me back to that awful day 11 years ago when, after watching the terrible events unfold on the TV, I spontaneously hung the flag outside to show solidarity with my country and the victims of the attacks.

More than a decade later, I am glad that we have more ways to honor the victims than just a symbolic flag raising. Today is officially known as a Day of Service and Remembrance, and many organizations, like HandsOn Bay Area, have designated the entire week a time to serve others.

If you’re looking for ways to make this day meaningful, there is still time to get involved. A few events are happening tonight, and there are some spots left to volunteer with a HandsOn project. Or take the commemoration into this weekend, and sign up for one of numerous service events. You can also get involved less formally by committing to do something kind for someone else today.

Read on for a list of ceremonies, multifaith events, and volunteer opportunities. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in September

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September is the “Other New Year”, when the slower-paced summer comes to an end, and a new busier season starts to ramp up. In a way it’s another fresh start, with all new opportunities to be better neighbors in our communities and the world. Here are five ways to be a good neighbor this month.

1. Support Kids With Cancer: In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, get educated about what children and teens diagnosed with cancer and their families experience, and find out how you can help. According to The Truth 365, a volunteer organization that created a documentary and social media campaign to educate the public about pediatric cancer, more than 13,500 youth under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Of those, approximately 2,500 succumb to their cancer; the average age of a child who dies from cancer is 8. Most causes of pediatric cancer remain a mystery, and there is no known way to prevent it. Find out more by visiting The Truth 365. While there you can sign a petition demanding more funding for pediatric cancer research, or even donate money toward research. Or, check out and donate to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which also supports childhood cancer research. Another great way to stay on top of the issue and show support for Jacob Goeders, a Bay Area boy known as “The Leukemia Slayer”, and his family, is by “liking” his Facebook page. The family is posting items about childhood cancer all month.

2. Take a Week (or just a day) to Show You Care and Remember: Sept. 11 was declared a National Day of Service and Remembrance [Read more…]

MLK Day of Service Events Around The Valley

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Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. Visit MLKDay.gov.

Although Monday, Jan. 16, is a national holiday and for many a day off, the National Day of Service organization is encouraging us to make  it a “day on” by volunteering to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There are several organized volunteer events around Silicon Valley on Monday—or create your own service event right in your own neighborhood. Even something as small as picking up trash, or performing an act of kindness for a neighbor or stranger, can be your own way of remembering Dr. King.

Below is list of organized events we’ve heard about. Use our contact form or comments section if you’ve heard of other events. And if you do your own act of service, share that with us, too!

United Way Silicon Valley – San Jose

Would you like to help local children get a quality education? Want to help teachers? [Read more…]