Greetings! I happen to love this time of year, when the air is crisp and the leaves have kicked into "supernova-overdrive" as I call it, displaying their last brilliant and fiery burst of colors before floating down to the ground.

And while we are nestled in our homes each fall evening, with perhaps, something simmering on the stove or roasting in the oven, there are countless families in our county who are without this simple routine, which we take for granted, day in and day out. And while many of us enjoy the changing climate and landscape, others see it as a fearful reminder that the cold will only get more chilling and the impending holidays are not something to be welcomed and embraced, due to their sad circumstances.

The good news is that we can help! Churches everywhere are aligning families in need with the Adopt A Family program, food-collection barrels are being placed in grocery stores and banks throughout our communities and Shelter Inc. is also helping families less fortunate. Most recently, the group began its Thanksgiving food drive and Share the Warmth drive for the Christmas season. I spoke with Alamo resident Julie Davis, who told me Shelter Inc. held their auxiliary meeting at Round Hill Country Club and discussed ways to help the community.

Shelter Inc. provides Thanksgiving meals for more than 200 low-income families by collecting food and grocery store gift cards for turkeys. She and member Maureen Carro have decorated food barrels, which will be displayed throughout the community, and member Deb Powell, who is a former manager of Wells Fargo in Alamo, arranged with current bank manager Chris Bhairo to put a Thanksgiving collection barrel in the branch located at 3157 Danville Blvd. Alamo resident Anne Marie Morgante placed a barrel at Rancho Romero School in Alamo, where students and parents can drop off food as they arrive to class.

Some members share the plight of those served by Shelter Inc. with their neighbors and friends by sending out letters, holding luncheons and asking guests to bring items to donate. Others collect food, gift cards and checks made out to Shelter Inc. One member asked her bunco group to bring food for the Thanksgiving food drive and members Linda Spiegelman and Alice Anthony are placing out a collection barrel at Crow Canyon Country Club. Julie and other members will also collect for Shelter Inc.'s Share the Warmth drive at the Alamo Tree Lighting, which is Dec. 2 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Andrew H. Young Park at 3000 Danville Blvd. (Tune in to my next column for more on the Tree Lighting.) Checks can be made out to Shelter Inc. and will go toward necessities such as warm clothing and other items we take for granted.

"There are many families who would otherwise have nothing for the holidays and many come to Shelter too late to be in the Adopt A Family program. So Shelter started Share the Warmth to provide the gifts most requested, such as pajamas, socks, blankets and other warm items," said Julie. She gave me an update about the Hike for Shelter held this past October on Mt. Diablo with 165 hikers, raising more than $80,000. "The hike was a wonderful community event and I'd like to thank Heather Peebles, manager at Alamo Starbucks for supporting the hike." Julie also informed me that more than half of the 70 members are from Alamo.

For more information on the organization or how to help, go to www.shelterincofccc.org. I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for giving happily!

Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- alamo@hotmail.com.