Winter weather in the Santa Clara Valley always has two sides. We sure do need rain, but the drier, warmer weather over the past couple of weeks has probably made it a little easier on the valley's homeless population, especially those who can't find room or just don't wind up in an overnight shelter.

More good news for the homeless comes from the Sobrato Family Foundation, which by the end of 2013 had approved $525,000 to support projects that address that crisis in Silicon Valley.

The grants -- aimed at tackling both immediate needs, as well as the long-term goals of initiatives like Housing 1000 and Housing First -- went to Gilroy's Compassion Center ($50,000); EHC LifeBuilders ($300,000); Pay for Success ($75,000), a public-private partnership in Santa Clara County; and Project We Hope ($100,000), which runs an emergency homeless shelter in East Palo Alto.

Sobrato Family Foundation CEO Rick Williams says that having children, families and veterans living on the streets and in riverbeds is unacceptable in a region with so much wealth and ingenuity. And the underlying goal here is that the example set by the Sobrato foundation will encourage other individuals, foundations and companies with the means to join in the fight to end homelessness in the valley. Let's hope that those with the ability to help get the message.

WINNING COMBINATION: I stopped by San Jose's burgeoning Little Italy neighborhood near SAP Center on Sunday for the Festa Dell'Epifania -- an Italian celebration of Epiphany -- at Debbie Caminiti's recently opened Bel Bacio coffee shop.


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Of course, when Caminiti and Little Italy Foundation Executive Director Joshua DeVincenzi Melander planned the afternoon celebration, they had no idea the 49ers would have a playoff game in Green Bay at the same time. It turned out to be no problem, as there was a TV in the coffee shop and one set up on a makeshift stand in the courtyard outside showing the game. Kids enjoyed a story about La Befana -- a legendary Christmas figure in Italian culture. By the time the winning field goal was kicked, nearly everyone there had their eyes on the screen.

CHARITABLE STARTUP: A Silicon Valley chapter of 100+ Women Who Care launched in October and is gearing up for its second meeting Wednesday at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge. The idea behind the "giving circle" is to bring together women who are committed to donating $100 each quarter, which is then distributed to a nonprofit group nominated and voted upon by the members.

Of course, the chapter would love to live up to its name by getting at least 100 valley women involved. The meeting takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and you can get more information and RSVP at www.100womensv.org.

GOOD BET: It's said they'll bleed you dry at a casino, but that saying will take on a different meaning Wednesday at Casino M8trix in San Jose, which is partnering with the American Red Cross for a community blood drive from noon to 6 p.m. The donations won't be taking place at the gaming tables but on the casino's sixth floor. Schedule an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org by using the sponsor code casinom8trix or sign up at the poker desk.

HUMBUGS: It was great to hear that downtown San Jose's three big holiday draws -- Christmas in the Park, Downtown Ice and the Winter Wonderland carnival -- all appear to have had record attendance and are on more stable financial footing than in some recent years. However, it was not great to hear that for the second year in a row, one of my favorite displays at Christmas in the Park -- the Penguin Flight School -- was vandalized. And by the time Christmas in the Park closed on New Year's Day, the baby Jesus from the nativity scene had been stolen (and not for the first time, as I understand). I hope there are some hard lumps of coal in store for everyone involved.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.