Welcome to a new year of community philanthropy and public service. Jacquie Oliverius has entrusted the "Good Neighbors" column to me with hopes that community connections and traditions will continue to flourish in the Contra Costa Times family. Thank you all for sharing your good news with us.
Feeding those in need
John Muir Health is delivering much needed assistance to families this holiday season with a generous donation of $40,000 to Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
"We are extremely grateful for the generosity of John Muir Health," said Larry Sly, executive director of the food bank. "This funding will enable our food bank to provide 80,000 meals right here in our community where the need is greater than ever before."
Winter Ice Gala
Award-winning ice dancers and figure skaters will help celebrate the new Walnut Creek winter ice rink at a formal Winter Ice Gala on Jan. 14, at the Walnut Creek Ice Rink.
Mike Chack, U.S. National Men's Bronze Medalist and Olympic Festival Champion skater, will be among those performing.
Dan Ashley, ABC7 news anchor, will perform an ice dance as well as sing with his band, PUSH.
The Walnut Creek Ice Rink is sponsored by the Walnut Creek Chamber and Visitor's Bureau and the Downtown Business Association.
The event, from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m., will be held in heated rink side tents and include a catered dinner from Scott's Seafood Bar & Grill, wine donated from Shadowbrook Winery, and vodka from SF Vodka. Tickets are $125 per person and are online at www.walnut-creek.com. For more information, call 925-934-2007.
Labors of love
The Contra Costa Regional Medical Center Auxiliary received a nice surprise recently for its Newborn Layette Project when the First Wednesday Ladies Domestic Arts Guild of Martinez presented it with hand-knit "Labors of Love."
Guild members knitted blankets, sweater sets, booties and caps, which are presented to mothers as they take their babies home, said guild member Deloris McDonald.
Ygnacio Valley Elementary School students were all smiles as the beneficiaries of more than 600 books in a mass giveaway hosted by the Rotary Club of Concord-Diablo.
Thrift Recycling Management of Benicia donated the books, which were laid out in the school multiuse room for students to claim. The remaining books were donated to the school's Book Nook exchange.
Ed Birsan, the club's community service director, and Victor Aparicio put the project together with Principal Christine Richardson and assistant Claudia Rodriguez.
Contact the Rotary Club of Concord-Diablo at www.CDRotary.org.
Unity Church of Walnut Creek, as part of its special Teddy Bear Project, brought the Christmas spirit to Healthy Start Program Emergency Room of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center patients with gifts of stuffed bears.
Delivering the bears -- purchased by members of the congregation -- were Terrilynn Hammond and Joanne Cosgrove.
Doing a good turn daily can make a difference in someone's life are words these Scouts live by.
Home Instead Senior Care of Walnut Creek volunteers collected more than 600 gifts for local seniors who otherwise might have been overlooked this holiday season as part of their "Be a Santa to a Senior" program.
Gifts were donated by CVS Pharmacy, Raley's Supermarket in Brentwood, Comerica Banks in Danville and Walnut Creek, and the Waterford Retirement Community in Rossmoor.
Boy Scouts of Troop 1994 collected, wrapped and delivered the gifts to 284 area seniors.
'I Bleed Silver & Black'
Blood donors at any American Red Cross blood center or mobile blood drive (excluding high school and college blood drives) in the Northern California Region will receive an "I Bleed Silver & Black" T-shirt through Jan. 15.
The Red Cross hopes the promotion will draw donors during a season when holiday schedules, inclement weather and illness take a toll.
The Northern California Blood Services Region of the Red Cross, which supplies blood to 30 local hospitals, operates five blood donation centers and holds mobile blood drives throughout the Bay Area.
Individuals who are at least 17 years old (16 with parental permission), meet height and weight requirements, and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
Call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment.
"Good Neighbors" is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org