HOW YOU CAN HELP

To donate to Share the Spirit, mail check to: Share the Spirit, PO Box 5498, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 — or donate online here.

The Volunteer Center co-sponsors the Share the Spirit Fund with the Bay Area News Group East Bay which includes our long-standing partner the Contra Costa Times, and the Oakland Tribune, Alameda Times Star, The Argus (Fremont) and Daily Review (Hayward). Newspaper readers contribute to the campaign, which benefits nonprofit organizations in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Proceeds from the fund support children, adults and families in need during the holidays.

Fundraising campaign receives $161,751 which helps more than 53,000 needy families and individuals  
 
Child Abuse Prevention Council provides training and resources designed to promote positive parenting.  
 
Work program helps Antioch mother of two earn enough to get out of homelessness, while giveaway provides family a holiday meal and toys.  
 
She was 13 when she broke the news to her middle school boyfriend: Their baby daughter was on the way. She was 15 when she gave birth to their second child, a son.  
 
ANDA CHU
Alameda County woman finds new work and mission at the food bank in Fremont  
 
The Kinship program, based in a house near the Richmond Civic Center, is part of a holistic approach to services to children of its parent agency, West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau  
 
First Baptist Head Start prepare youngsters in 389 low-income families for kindergarten by teaching literacy as well as the social skills they'll need to succeed in school.  
 
Most mornings about 11 a.m., Kaysdria Johnson and her young family of four drive from their Antioch apartment to the Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa dining room in Pittsburg to get a hot lunch and pick up free groceries.  
 
Victoria Choate, of Livermore, now a volunteer with Tri-Valley Haven's Buenas Vidas Thrift Store, returned to the nonprofit to volunteer. It seemed a natural place to go when she had to select a place to do community service, She benefited from the nonprofit's help, having lived in the agency's shelters as an 8-year-old and when she was in her mid-30s.  
 
The Bay Area Rescue Mission has helped the area's needy since 1965, providing thousands of Thanksgiving and holiday meals every year  
 
Doug Oakley/Staff
Number of hungry clients up 30 percent in last two months.  
 
Nana Bediako worked all his life, but short-term jobs over last decade have been a barrier to long-term job  
 
Pregnant and homeless last holiday season, Heather Aguilar now shares apartment with infant son and has much to be thankful for.  
 
 
( Kristopher Skinner )
Free tours of water-wise California-native gardens

As more Californians than ever explore drought-tolerant landscape alternatives, two upcoming garden tours shine a spotlight on low-water native plants. On April 26 and 27, some 60 gardens on the Peninsula and in the Santa Clara Valley will be open to visitors. And on May 4, some 40 East Bay gardens, from Fremont to Martinez, will be open too. 
(Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP Images)
Ryan Seacrest leaving 'American Idol?'

Report says the “Idol” host stepping down after current season.