Independence Day brings to mind visions of picnics and parties, fireworks and our yearly affirmation of how lucky we are to be Americans.

Yet some Americans are not as lucky as others. What can we do to make a difference? Sometimes all we need to do is look in our own backyard.

Help Food Bank

Whether you bought too many veggies at the store or had a large crop in your home garden, your extra produce can make a difference to people in need.

Donate surplus produce to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano's Concord warehouse from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday and Friday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, at 4010 Nelson Ave. in Concord.

When children are out of school, many lack the regular meal they receive at lunch time.

The summer food service program of the Food Bank coordinates meals and arranges locations for children to be provided with meals free of charge.

For example, Martinez Unified School District and Sodexo Child Nutrition Services provide free breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday, at the Boys & Girls Club, 1301 Alhambra Ave in Martinez, until July 24.

Lunch is also provided at 11 a.m. at John Swett Elementary, 4955 Alhambra Valley Road, in Martinez through July 24.

The Pittsburg Unified School District provides free meals for children 2-18 years old and handicapped adults through Aug. 9, at a dozen locations in East Contra Costa County.


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The Food Bank is a centralized warehouse that stores and distributes donated and purchased perishable and nonperishable food items to other nonprofit organizations as well as directly to low-income people.

For more information, visit www.foodbankccs.org.

And don't forget Fido

More and more pets are hungry because their families are facing tough economic times.

AniMeals Pet Food Bank is a partnership of the Contra Costa Humane Society, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, and Pet Food Express that helps financially challenged families and individuals in Contra Costa County keep their pets in the home.

For more information, visit the Contra Costa Humane Society at www.cchumane.org to see how you can help.

Gleaning fruit

The Concord-Diablo Picker Squadron takes in volunteers from the community to help glean excess fruit from people's trees and take it to local food pantries.

Gil Herrera recently volunteered to help Beri and Jeff Kasper pick 353 pounds of oranges and lemons at the Concord home of Sharie Hunter.

The Concord-Diablo Rotary Club has now reached more than 2,600 pounds of fruit donated for the year.

The club meets at 12:15 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel, 45 John Glenn Drive, off Concord Avenue in Concord.

Visit www.CDrotary.org for more information.

Vintage fashion show

The Vintage Fashion Show benefiting Central County Homeless Outreach offered a 1950s formal tea party, with models wearing vintage fashions, rivaled only by the many guests also sporting beautiful hats, gloves and fashions from a gentler bygone era.

Guests were greeted with beautifully restored cars from the 1950s provided by Al Cui, Ken Darrah, Don Pelot and Eddie Taganon.

Models for the event were Cheyenne Bradley, Kassidy Halstead, Diana Lopez, Alyssa Rose and Dorothy Buffington. The models' makeup was provided by Debbie and Jennifer Oertel, and Adam Garay of Citrus Salon provided hair and makeup expertise.

Vintage fashions and accessories were courtesy of Cindy Vorte of Alley Cats in Martinez, and from the personal collections of Nancy Peacock, Mary Perez and Buffington.

Eddie Taganon serenaded guests with oldies but goodies, and photographers were Lorena Castillo and Robert Perry.

Proceeds from the afternoon were dedicated to Central County Homeless Shelter. Founder and CEO Doug Stewart and his lovely wife, Bailey, were on hand to greet those in attendance and share the very worthwhile efforts of their organization.

Central County Homeless Outreach is on call 24 hours a day to help the homeless of Contra Costa County receive needed care and shelter.

Visit www.homelessoutreach.net to learn more about their efforts and how you might offer support.

Musical scholarships

The first recipients of the Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation's Kathy Nelson Merit Scholar Awards were chosen from a field of talented musicians.

"The most successful musicians often reflect on the support, encouragement, and mentoring they received when they were learning and improving." says Michael Weiner, Friends foundation president. "We want to join in on that process in supporting these students."

Congratulations go to:

  • Bianca Pratte from Walnut Creek, who plays the flute

  • Clarissa Chan from San Ramon who plays both flute and piano

  • Katherine Brown from Pleasant Hill, who plays the violin

  • Kai Niland of Danville, who plays the piano and cello.

    Each will receive $250 scholarships.

    Honorable Mention $100 scholarship award recipients are Adah Forer, who plays flute, and Anna Ravid, who plays violin, both from Walnut Creek.

    The Merit Scholar Awards are named in honor of Kathy Nelson, recently retired Civic Arts Education program manager for her lifetime commitment to the organization.

    The Friends foundation plans a recognition event in the fall for the recipients of the scholar awards. Independent judge Greg Van Sudemeir, noted Bay Area music director and symphony conductor, chose these six young musicians from many very talented and motivated contenders.

    The Friends of Civic Arts Foundation will be expanding the merit scholar program within performance, dance and other arts categories in an effort to celebrate all branches of the CAE.

    For more information, call 925-943-5648 or email friendsofcae@walnut-creek.org.

    DVFA honors Tippett

    Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging presented an appreciation award to Frank Tippett, of Moraga, a recently retired board member.

    Frank, accompanied by his wife, Jan, received a plaque commemorating his six years of service to the foundation from board chairman Joe Bettencourt.

    "We are grateful for Frank's financial leadership and his unselfish dedication to our mission," said Bettencourt.

    The foundation offers geriatric care management, personal assistant services, a respite center, and private fiduciary and money management services to seniors in Contra Costa County.

    It provides the support necessary for older adults to live independently.

    For more information, contact 925-945-8040 or visit www.foundationforaging.org.

    Shopping helps youth

    The Boys & Girls Club of the Diablo Valley is one of the beneficiaries of J.C. Penney's new program that invites customers to round up their purchases and donate the difference to various organizations to support afterschool programs.

    JCP Cares is ongoing through July.

    "With budget cuts in education, there's never been a more important time to support afterschool programs as a valuable community resource that helps to bridge the education gap," said Tuong Truong, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Diablo Valley. "As customers shop for the back-to-school season, we hope they will keep our mission in mind so that the social and academic learning opportunities we provide after school will continue to be available to Martinez students."

    The afterschool program offered at BGCDV serves more than 850 students each year

    For more information about JCP Cares, visit www.jcp.com/jcpcares.

    For more about Boys & Girls Club of the Diablo Valley, which has been part of the local and surrounding community for more than 50 years, visit www.bgcdv.org.

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