* ... PIE RUN: Speaking of family, the annual Bakersfield Pie Run out at Hart Park is as close to family as one can get. It's the annual gathering of more than 300 people (and their dogs) for a brisk run or walk in the hills to return to a roaring fire and pies, cakes, donuts, cookies and even try-tip and hot dogs. Organized John Rous, the event brings together generations of families and friends. Among those I spotted this year were Karen Gleiter, Julie Moss, Lisette Stinson, Rob and Sally Baker and their girls Sarah, Maggie and Katie, Eydie Gibson, Tracy Walker-Kiser and husband Brian, Matt and Molly Clark and son Harry, Andy Noise, Lydia Rowles, Joe Peterson, Tori Allendorf-Mills, Karen Poteete and daughter Jamie, Olivia Garcia, Steven Wilkinson, Pete Elieff, Don Martin, Esther Brandon, Dave and Debbie Cohn and her daughters Kari and Lauren, and so many more.
* ... GIVING THANKS: It's easy to overlook the many blessings in our busy lives, but this is the time of year to truly give thanks. My own list of blessings may be short, but it's enough to make for a good life. I am thankful to live in a community that is full of people who care about others. I am grateful for my health, for having a job that puts food on my table, for two remarkable daughters and for having friends who are so willing to share in my joy and grief. And of course, I am thankful for my roommate, the ever-loyal lap cat Latte.
* ... MCKEE: I am constantly humbled by how so many people in our community open their hearts and wallets to help the needy this time of year, and even more so when it involves young people. For the past eight years, students over at McKee Middle School have been collecting food for the needy. The first year, teacher Matt Ornelaz told me almost 500 cans were collected. This year, with a student body of just 900 students, 3,742 cans were collected. Now that is something to feel good about. (photos submitted by Matt Ornelaz)
* ... MORE THANKS: And then there is this bit of gratitude from reader Gaylia Miller-Harris: "I just want to thank the Kern Humane Society for giving out the vouchers to have your pets spayed or neutered, and also to the Critters Without Litters. I had my Daisey spayed there Monday and the cost was $60, including pain medication. You can't beat the staff at Critters Without litters. They were quick, organized and friendly. My local veterinarian wanted over $200. Kudos to both organizations."
* ... TURKEYS: And hats off to the kids over at Independence High School who partnered with Living Grace Church to assemble 120 complete turkey dinners to the needy in our community.