Click photo to enlarge
Volunteer Mayra Estrada, 19, of Walnut Creek, center, with hat, coordinates present-giving to children during the Christmas for Everyone event at the New Hope International Church in Concord, Calif. on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011. 3,000 people were expected for the event which also featured a meal, haircuts, clothing distribution, games and live entertainment. (Jane Tyska/Staff)

Give thanks to neighborhood volunteers who work throughout the year to bring help and services to those in need. Get involved. It feels great!

AnyBody Can sing

Maxine Chan started the ABC (AnyBody Can) Singers when her daughter was small and she didn't have enough money to donate. But she could sing, knew a lot of Christmas carols, and started a caroling group at three convalescent hospitals in one night with a few other single parents.

The real estate agent, now with Altera Signature Properties, invited others in the real estate industry to join, and the project grew into the ABC Singers.

Maxine arranges performances for the ABC Singers throughout the holiday season at neighborhood assisted living venues and is also the entertainment coordinator for Christmas for Everyone.

She is seeking some good souls who like to sing Christmas carols. Their debut performance begins Dec. 4, at Chateau at Poet's Corner Assisted Living Community, 540 Patterson Road in Pleasant Hill. All performances begin at 6 p.m. Additional dates:

Dec. 5 -- Stonebrook Convalescent, 4367 Concord Blvd., Concord

Dec. 6 -- Bayberry Care, 1800 Adobe St., Concord

Dec. 10 -- Chateau II and Chateau I, 2770 Pleasant Hill Road, Pleasant Hill (with Victor Brito)

Dec. 11 -- Chateau III, 175 Cleaveland Road, Pleasant Hill


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Dec. 12 -- Alhambra Convalescent, 331 Ilene St., Martinez

Dec. 17 -- Aegis of Pleasant Hill, 1660 Oak Park Blvd.

Dec. 18 -- Chateau on Broadway, 1700 Broadway St., Concord

Dec. 20 -- Veterans hospital, 150 Muir Road, Martinez

And of course, at Christmas for Everyone!

Christmas for Everyone

Mary Perez founded Christmas For Everyone 27 years ago, which now serves Christmas dinner to more than 3,000 people each year. The festivities run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Christmas Day, Dec. 25, at New Hope International Church, 2120 Olivera Road in Concord, and are open to all. Karen Ramos is her right hand, and helps with setting up, and Cathy McRoberts runs the dining room. Behind the scenes, volunteers are needed to provide support before, during and after the event, and donations of financial gifts, toys, clothing, food and more are being accepted.

Thousands of people are served on Christmas Day, including those unable to leave their homes. Teams deliver to those residents enough food to last a few days, a gift for each person, and the team visits for a little while before they leave.

There are buses to pick up and return guests from various neighborhoods who don't have a ride. Guests are invited to help themselves to gently-used donated clothing, check their bag, then have a sit-down Christmas feast of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, fruit, beverages and desserts.

Hundreds of volunteers help with holding of babies, finding seats for the family or group and food service. A lot of activities are going on, such as digital photos, haircuts, face painting, a jump house for the kids, and music and other entertainment, and of course, the ABC Christmas carolers!

For more information about how you can join the singers, call Maxine at 925-969-9693. To donate to the cause or volunteer for Christmas For Everyone, visit www.christmasforeveryone.com, email twc98perez@aol.com or call 925-228-2233.

Senior ombudsmen

Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa advocates for the more than 8,500 elderly and dependent adults living in licensed long-term care facilities throughout Contra Costa County.

Their staff and volunteers make regular unannounced visits to this vulnerable population to identify, investigate and address problems, including improper administration of medications, inadequate care planning, violations of residents' rights, financial exploitation, allegations of abuse and neglect.

Their recent Champagne and Chocolate fundraising benefit at Mechanics Bank of Concord raised needed funds to support their good works in our community. Contact the Ombudsman Services of Contra Costa at 925-685-2070 for more information.

Assistance League

Assistance League of Diablo Valley's eight, hands-on philanthropic programs target every age group in our community to help improve lives of those who are at-risk and in need. One meeting the needs of students -- some 4,000 this year -- is Operation School Bell, a nationally acclaimed program that provides clothing for elementary schoolchildren.

Coupled with the Assistance League's Corporate Partnership Program, the AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange on Nov. 1 helped in an Operation School Bell sizing event at Cambridge Elementary School in Concord. The 11 AAA employee volunteers were led by volunteer manager Roger Hancock.

The Assistance League also supports foster youth through its scholarships and community programs. Don Graves, coordinator for Contra Costa County Independent Living Skills Program, recently thanked the organization for the scholarships and noted that recipients received more than money -- they got a feeling of self-worth and the knowledge that someone believes in them and their future.

To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley's other philanthropic programs, its Corporate Partnership Program, and its primary fundraiser, the Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, at 3521 Golden Gate Way in Lafayette, visit the website at diablovalley.assistanceleague.org. To learn how to help foster youth, visit www.cocoilsp.org.

Conservation awards

The John Muir Association supports the National Park Service in sustaining the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez as a center for education, inspiration, and advocacy of the legacy of John Muir.

In keeping with this mission, each year since 1978, the John Muir Association has honored those who continue Muir's legacy of environmental preservation with their annual John Muir Conservation Awards.

The association invites residents to nominate a deserving individual, nonprofit organization, business, public agency or educational institution for recognition. Self-nominations are accepted.

The association will present the 35th awards ceremony for Conservationist of the Year, Environmental Education Conservation, Nonprofit or Public Agency Conservation, and Business Conservation at the John Muir Birthday—Earth Day Celebration to be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013, at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez.

Shell Martinez Refinery is sponsoring the event, which will feature keynote speaker and retired Contra Costa Times columnist Gary Bogue.

Nominations are accepted until Dec. 31. Visit www.johnmuirassociation.org or call 925-229-3857.

ARF to the rescue!

Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation offers free Pet Fix Days, one of the many ways ARF is helping to reduce future numbers of homeless, unwanted animals. Altered animals are healthier, happier, and do not further contribute to the already overwhelming pet overpopulation problem.

ARF offers free spay/neuter surgeries for dogs and cats for low-income families who qualify.

Cats must be between 17 weeks and 6 years old, healthy, and current on rabies and FVRCP vaccines. Proof of vaccinations will be required on the day of surgery. Kittens must weigh at least 2 pounds.

Dogs must be between 17 weeks and 6 years old, healthy, and current on rabies and DHPP vaccinations. Proof of vaccinations will be required on the day of surgery. Puppies must weigh at least 2 pounds.

Space is limited, so be sure to book an appointment in advance. Call the Spay/Neuter Clinic at 925-296-3125 to make an appointment. Leave a message and an ARF representative will return your call within three business days. Visit www.arf.net.

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