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…]

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 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…]