The Diablo Magazine Threads of Hope Awards, co-sponsored by Wells Fargo and Contra Costa Oncology, were presented last week at the Orinda Theatre, emceed by Jessica Aguirre, weeknight Bay Area NBC anchor.

I attended as a guest of Assistance League of Diablo Valley on behalf of their nominee, Virginia Swanberg, a 35-year veteran of the organization.

Hundreds of members of our communities gathered to honor local heroes and award winners:

  • Dr. Tomas Magana for his work with Faces for the Future Coalition which encourages young people to pursue medical careers

  • Eric Rudney for his contributions to establish a recycling program for the developmentally disabled through Las Trampas, Inc.

  • Gerald Brody for his exemplary dedication to helping children at Oakland Children's Hospital do their homework

  • Sarah Williams, a teenager who inspired the "Creative Kindness" program to provide a comforting security blanket to foster youth

  • Lorrie Sullenberger for her loving embrace and decades-long commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. Congratulations to all the honorees, as well as the dozens of other nominees who were acknowledged for their contributions to our communities.

    Kiwanis candy sales


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    Martinez Kiwanis Club will sell See's Candies daily through Dec. 24, at two locations this year: 1135 Arnold Drive in the Village Oaks Shopping Center; and at 712 Main St. in Martinez.

    The funds raised will be used for community scholarships and grants.

    Kiwanis has supported the Martinez community for more than 80 years. They meet for lunch and a short program each Thursday at the Kiwanis Youth Center, 750 Allen St. in Martinez.

    President Don Pallotta, vice president Marlene Haws, secretary Tom Watrous and treasurer Thora Harshman always want to meet new neighbors who share their spirit. If you would like to learn more about Martinez Kiwanis, visit www.kiwanisofmartinez.org.

    Lincoln's legacy

    The Walnut Creek Library Foundation is hosting Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, an exhibition offering a fresh and innovative perspective on President Abraham Lincoln that focuses on his struggle to meet the political and constitutional challenges of the Civil War.

    With all the attention Lincoln is getting these days in books and film, here is your chance for a real-life blast from the past.

    Organized thematically, this compelling exhibition explores how Lincoln used the Constitution to confront three intertwined crises of the war -- the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.

    The exhibit is free and open to all visitors during library hours beginning Dec. 14, and running through Feb. 8.

    "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" open house reception will be held Dec. 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Walnut Creek Library's Teen Center on the second floor, 1644 N. Broadway in Walnut Creek. Visit www.wclibrary.org/live/lincoln.

    Volunteers from the National Civil War Association and the Walnut Creek Historical Society will present Civil War civilian life, cavalry, artillery and medical artifacts, memorabilia and displays; performances of an original playlet, "Aftermath," about two brothers, one Union and one Confederate, who meet at the end of the war.

    A presidential "Abraham Lincoln" will stroll the exhibit and displays, meeting and greeting visitors and sharing words of Lincolnesque wisdom. Providing the perfect musical backdrop to the evening will be a wandering banjo player, strumming the popular songs and anthems of the Civil War played as they were 150 years ago.

    "The Civil War in Four Minutes," will run continuously in the Teen Center, presenting the ever-changing battle lines during the Civil War. The entire four-year war is presented in roughly four minutes.

    And no American Civil War commemoration is complete without the reading of the Gettysburg Address, which will be presented mid-evening by a special guest. I wonder who it will be? Come and find out!

    Toys for Tots

    Everyone is encouraged to bring unwrapped toys to the Walnut Creek Marriott, 2355 N. Main St. in Walnut Creek until Dec. 17. This is the fourth year the Windsor Capital Group portfolio of hotels is supporting the U.S. Marine's Toys for Tots Foundation.

    "The number of children living below the poverty level is now over 16 million; a figure I've never known to be higher," said retired Maj. Bill Grein, the vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation."In order for us to fulfill the Christmas holiday dreams of as many of these children as possible, we're going to need a lot of individual and corporate support," Grein continued. Fortunately, we have 20 WCG Hotels back for the fourth year to help us reach these kids."

    Visit www.toysfortots.org for more information and additional ways to support this great cause.

    Sew needy

    Christ the King Ministry Center in Pleasant Hill sews dresses and shorts every Wednesday for children ages 4-14, to be sent to the most needy areas around the world.

    Volunteers for the Dress a Child Around the World campaign come from all over Contra Costa County and bring with them their own exceptional creative talents as well as usable fabric, notions and a willingness to help in any way they can.

    Since May of this year, a group of about 60-65 steady sewers -- and non-sewers -- have participated in the nondenominational effort, providing more than 1,000 dresses and 200 pairs of shorts. For most of the young recipients, the new clothing will be the first and only new things they will receive in their lifetime.

    Earlier this month, the sewing group received pictures of children in South Africa receiving clothing during their annual Christmas party, and dresses and shorts arrived in the poorest areas of the Philippines just in time for the holidays. Locally, farmworker families in Central California were recipients and a delivery was made to an Indian school in Oklahoma.

    For information about how you can help, contact coordinator Carol Vogl at 925-288-0488 or carolvogl@sbcglobal.net.

    Save Mount Diablo

    Save Mount Diablo is dedicated to "preserve, defend and restore" our beautiful mountain and foothills.

    They are requesting donations, offering new holiday gift memberships a free trail map, and seeking volunteers to help throughout the year. Visit www.savemountdiablo.org for more information.

    Home for the holidays

    Don't miss the Clayton Historical Society's Christmas Home Tour from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at the Clayton Museum, 6101 Main St. -- the starting point for the tour of five decorated homes -- or by visiting www.claytonhistory.org.

    Turkey giveaway

    Four years ago, Coach Bob O'Meara of the De La Salle High School varsity lacrosse team asked Barb Hunt, development director for St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County (and parent of a lacrosse team member), what his players could do to help the community.

    Ever since, the De La Salle lacrosse team has provided financial assistance for 150 turkeys included in each Thanksgiving Food Basket through St. Vincent de Paul's food pantry, operated by the branch at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 860 Oak Grove Road in Concord.

    The team -- each year -- has raised more than $2,500 to provide the turkeys to the St. Francis Thanksgiving program. The turkeys have been sourced from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and Safeway-Alamo.

    Last year, the St. Francis pantry provided food for more than 3,1000 households, with more than 12,000 individuals receiving food, noted Hunt in a news release.

    Lacrosse team members participated in the turkey giveaway Nov. 17, with the assistance of SVdP volunteers and the St. Francis youth group.

    The St. Francis Food Pantry director is Jane Streich and there are 38 volunteers working in various capacities to provide food assistance five days per week to the hungry in the Concord community.

    "I honestly believe that the SVdP Food Pantry would have had to discontinue our annual Thanksgiving distribution ... if we hadn't been rescued by the DLS lacrosse team, coaches and parents. They not only purchased and delivered 150 turkeys to the St. Francis gym, but also provided invaluable help in the distribution of food. They are truly an outstanding group of young men," wrote Streich in a release.

    For those who want to help, contact Streich at jjstreich@astound.net.

    "Good Neighbors" is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to goodneighbors@bayareanewsgroup.com.