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Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Virtual Holiday Celebration on Dec. 6 helped raise funds for its life-changing mission that empowers lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people who are visually impaired and highly qualified guide dogs. The event started with a virtual red carpet and featured a special appearance by actor Noah Wyle followed by inspiring stories of guide dog teams across North America. More than 1,500 guests joined via Zoom along with another 120 streaming on Facebook from all over the United States as well as England, Canada, India and Italy, raising $425,000. Pictured (above, left) is Christine Benninger, president and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Theia, GDB ambassador dog, and Theresa Stern, vice president of outreach, admissions and alumni services, with her guide dog Wills.  -Photo courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind

During the holiday season, members of a local Girl Scout troop made sure homebound and chronically ill residents throughout Marin knew someone was thinking about them. The Mission Rafael Girl Scout Service Unit, which supports more than 40 troops throughout San Rafael, partnered with Vivalon to donate holiday hand-made cards, decorative grocery bags, and dry foods, all benefiting Vivalon Nourish and Vivalon Meals on Wheels nutrition programs. Girl Scout cookies, dry packaged and canned foods were included inside the decorated bags. All food items were donated by Girl Scout members, families, friends and other community members. Donations are welcome at  -Photos courtesy of Mission Rafael Girl Scout Service Unit

An array of grand masters and world champion bridge players turned their talents into a big win for Homeward Bound of Marin, which provides shelter, housing and training to families and individuals facing homelessness. The Marin Unit 508 of the American Contract Bridge League mounted an online auction allowing bridge players near and far to bid on the chance to team up with a pro in a special charity bridge tournament. Through bidding that closed Christmas Eve plus donations from the online tournament, the holiday event raised more than $153,000 for essential services to help vulnerable families, veterans, seniors and others served by Homeward Bound. The organization serves approximately 1,000 people per year in 16 shelter and housing programs. Since the onset of COVID-19, it has offered rent relief for residents in transitional and permanent housing programs hit hard by loss of income and childcare. All programs have remained open.  -Photo courtesy of Homeward Bound of Marin

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