Collection drives focused on keeping the needy warm and fed for the season have started in West Contra Costa.

Wilson & Kratzer is accepting food donations at its Civic Center Chapel at 455 24th St. in Richmond and its Chapel of the Mission Bells, 13644 San Pablo Ave. in San Pablo.

Donation barrels have been placed at each location and collected items will go to the Bay Area Rescue Mission, which provided more than 1.5 million meals to the area's most needy last year.

Details: 510-232-4383

  • The fifth annual coat drive by the after school program at the George Miller Center at 2801 Robert Miller Drive in Richmond is going on now through Dec. 14, with donations going to the Bay Area Rescue Mission.

    Donations can be dropped off at the center or pick up can be arranged. Bins are also available that can be dropped off and picked up at willing workplaces.

    For more details contact Claudia Lam at clam@arcofcc.org or 510-374-3981.

  • The 15th annual Toy and Coat Drive for Verde Elementary School in North Richmond can use your help to assist students in one of the most impoverished areas of the county.

    Toys must be unwrapped. And this year organizers are seeking new light jackets (instead of heavy winter/snow coats) sizes XS to XL that children can wear all year.

    Tax-deductible cash or check donations are especially welcome and checks should be made payable to the nonprofit Neighborhood House of North Richmond c/o 2011 Verde Toy and Coat Drive.

    Donations can be dropped during business hours off at Gioia's district office at 11780 San Pablo Ave., Suite D (near Cutting Boulevard) in El Cerrito. For details call 510-374-3231.

    STEPPING UP TO FEED THE NEEDY: Menbere Aklilu, owner of Salute E Vita Ristorante at Marina Bay in Richmond, again served full Thanksgiving meals to individuals and families who otherwise would have gone without or been alone on Thursday.

    The restaurant hosted 600 guests, double the number it fed last year, and attendees were served by volunteer waiters.

    "For many people, Thanksgiving is a day we spend celebrating with our families over a lovingly prepared dinner," Aklilu said. "However, there are many in Richmond who do not have access to a warm and beautifully cooked meal. That's why we're doing this."

  • Pastor William Coleman and the outreach team from Praise Fellowship Bible Church in Richmond's the Hilltop neighborhood were at the Veterans Hall on 23rd Street to provide meals on Thanksgiving.

  • First United Methodist Church of Point Richmond also served its 17th annual free community dinner on Thursday, following its morning Thanksgiving service.

    WEST COUNTY NOTES: A group of 10 artisans will be holding a Pop-Up Holiday Art Show & Sale from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesday through next Sunday at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

    "Some highlights include blown glass by Holly Wallace, vintage-inspired loomed beadwork by Julie Long Gallegos, abstract photography by kayla garelick, assemblage art by Beka Brayer, mixed media and fiber arts by Grace Taormina, fused glass jewelry and handmade soap by Jane and Nadine Robbins-Laurent, artisanal botanical perfumes by Laurie Stern, painting by Victoria Veedell, Rachel Taormina and our host Mark Canepa," notes Heidi Rand, one of the participating artists.

  • An open forum will discuss "Youth in Richmond -- Whose City is it?" from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Whittlesey Community Room of the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza.

    "One of the big challenges that students in Richmond have is that their education is seen as inadequate and they aren't taken as seriously as students from other districts, said Milca Baires, a senior at Richmond High School. "It is up to us to prove them wrong."

    The free event will have panels of young people and youth service providers in an interactive discussion, spoken word by members of RAW Talent from the Making Waves Education Program on the youth experience and light refreshments.

    Details: www.richmondlibrary.org or 510-620-5516

  • San Pablo residents are invited to take part in shaping the community's future at a zoning ordinance update and workshop at 6 p.m. Nov. 28 at City Hall, 13831 San Pablo Ave.

    Details: Gian Martire, 510-215-3043 or gianm@sanpabloca.gov.

  • A proclamation honoring the accomplishments of Bill Jackson, longtime merchant marine and chief engineer emeritus on the SS Red Oak Victory who died Oct. 28 at 94, is on the Richmond City Council agenda for Nov. 27.

  • A free inspiration Vespers service and music program by the Jeanne Walpole Group will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at Christ the Lord Episcopal Church, 592 Tennent Ave. in Pinole. Walpole is music director at the church, a pianist at Nordstrom and teacher at the Jazzschool in Berkeley.

    Details: 510-724-9141.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.