Wishing you all a happy holiday season. All through the year, volunteers support our community's needs. As the year comes to a close, please recognize and support the great philanthropic organizations in your neighborhoods and the business and local government leaders who support them.

Youth grants

Congratulations to the Pleasant Hill Community Foundation Youth Grant Award recipients. These awards are funded from proceeds from the annual Pleasant Hill "Allied Waste Golf Classic." Receiving grant awards this year:

  • American Association of University Women for its math and science camp

  • College Park High School for biology anatomical models, a creative-writing class, tennis net replacements, soccer uniforms and high school instrumental mentoring of elementary students

  • Fair Oaks Elementary for headphones

  • Pleasant Hill Elementary School for classroom sports equipment

  • Pleasant Hill Library for books for young readers

  • Strandwood Elementary for an anti-bullying program

  • Valhalla Elementary School for Livescribe Smart Pens.

    "The Pleasant Hill Community Foundation is very thankful to all the people who have participated in over a decade of our Golf Classics. Their generosity has enabled local community organizations to support these vital programs for the youth of Pleasant Hill," said Betty Geishirt Cantrell, youth grant awards chairwoman.

    "We are also very excited to welcome new board member, Adrianne Roe, to our Youth Grant Awards Committee to help evaluate the 20 proposals we received this year."

    Visit the foundation website at www.PHCommunityFoundation.org for more information.

    Sewing for service

    The Sewing Machine Shop of Walnut Creek is holding a fabric and sewing machine drive to benefit the efforts of Barbara Bretzinger's "Service, Sewing and Support," a community project for our military serving overseas.

    Barbara's son Donny has served three tours of duty and is going back to Afghanistan in January.

    Barbara relies on sewing to help deal with the stress involved with having a son overseas in the service. She started collecting sewing machines she purchased herself at garage sales, and teaching military wives to sew, said Sheila Lopipero with the Sewing Machine Shop.

    Bretzinger's efforts have been so applauded by the U.S. Army they have asked her to set up teaching facilities in several additional locations.

    She is heading to Fort Drum in New York this month with more than 400 pounds of donated fabric collected by The Sewing Machine Shop, which will continue to collect fabric, usable sewing machines and sewing accessories through December.

    For more information, contact Sheila@sewingmachineshop.com or call 925-937-7575.

    CHP toy drive

    The California Highway Patrol is in the final two days of accepting donations of unwrapped toys for holiday delivery to needy children. Residents who would like to donate can drop off a toy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 21, at any CHP office.

    Call the Contra Costa area office at 925-646-4980 for information or drop off your toys at 5001 Blum Road in Martinez.

    Retiree Al Capri, 78, has been playing the "Claw Crane" arcade machine for 11 years to win more than 100 animals for the "Chips for Kids" toy drive.

    "Mr. Capri is that untold story of so many people in our community. They are the people that reach out and give without any expectation of receiving something in return. It is truly amazing," said Capt. Jonni Fenner in a news release.

    She wanted to express her appreciation for all the donations the CHP has received and to those still planning to donate.

    College after 50

    Emeritus College, a nonprofit, fee-supported program of Diablo Valley College, provides outstanding not-for-credit, short-term, affordable educational classes for adults over 50, just for the fun of it on a variety of topics including history, politics, literature, opera and everything in between.

    Classes are held at Rossmoor, DVC and JFK University in Pleasant Hill. You don't have to be a member to take a class, but the benefits of membership ($50 annually) include discounts on Emeritus classes, free DVC parking permits for classes held on campus, free lectures and discounts on day tours, local sightseeing trips and even international escorted vacations.

    A membership would be a wonderful Christmas gift for your spouse, parents or grandparents.

    The Emeritus College for Seniors fall fundraiser, "High Tea and Broadway," at DVC last month encouraged volunteers to enjoy wonderful food, entertainment, fancy hats, and festive decorations, thanks to event chairwoman Lucia Falcone, and raffle chair, Patt Lass. The Emeritus College executive director is Jo Mele.

    Proceeds from the event will help Emeritus College continue to provide educational opportunities. The spring class schedule will be available Jan. 7. For those wanting a complete list of classes, tours and vacations, call Emeritus College at 925-685-1230, ext. 2388, or go to www.dvc.edu/emeritus to get on their mailing list.

    Aquanuts on stage

    The Walnut Creek Aquanuts represented the United States in the prestigious Synchronized Swimming World Trophy Cup Championships in Mexico City and placed seventh overall, ahead of the three national teams from the Netherlands, Great Britain and Brazil.

    The Aquanuts Trophy Cup team, coached by Kim Probst (Walnut Creek Aquanuts head coach), Tammy McGregor (Juniors/Seniors Aquanuts coach) and Olga Kouznetsova (Aquanuts coach), prepared routines for the competition, including a Mexican theme with full traditional costuming.

    The crowd went wild when Sandra Ortellado from Carondelet High School, waved a Mexican flag while on top of the first lift.

    In the shark-themed duet with Jamie Kuchan and Alexa Tchekmarev, the pair wore full body costuming featuring teeth on the arms and dorsal fins on their legs.

    The highlight of the competition was when the Aquanuts beat the Russian team in the burlesque routine in the thematic team event. Sophia Bouzos, also from Carondelet, performed rhythmic gymnastics for the International Swimming Federation and celebrity judges.

    To watch videos of the World Trophy Cup exhibition (I did!), or to learn more about Aquanuts, visit their website at www.aquanuts.org.

    Give a gift of life

    The Pleasant Hill Teen Center offers a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at 147 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill. To schedule an appointment, log on to redcrossblood.org, and enter the sponsor code: PHCCPR or call 800 RED CROSS (800-733-2767).

    New hatters

    Members of a new Red Hat Society chapter can be seen around Central Contra Costa County wearing the red and purple clothing, and hats, of course!

    The Ruby Mavens Chapter held its Christmas luncheon in Walnut Creek, with a gift exchange. Queen Gina Scheer gave out Red Hat pins, and Kim Soibelman had a miniature gingerbread house for each member.

    In the chapter's short existence, said member Pat Rishell, they have enjoyed a train trip through Niles Canyon and had an evening of fondue while creating hats to wear to events. A tea is planned for the near future.

    The Red Hat Society, formed in 1997, boasts thousands of chapters worldwide with a goal to have fun and enjoy friendships.

    For more information contact Pat Rishell, email krishell@astound.net or call 925-682-6279.

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