CHARITY

Did you open your wallet and donate to your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday? The day is set aside to put a focus on philanthropy, but giving should not be reserved to one day a year. If you are part of the CSUB alumni, why not contribute to the university's scholarship fund? Same for Bakersfield College and Taft College. If you are fond of dogs or cats, there is the local SPCA. Want to help the needy? How about the Assistance League or the Boys and Girls Club? Or better yet, volunteer your time at one of our local homeless centers. It will be a gift to yourself.

HAIL UTAH

And speaking of charity, did you know that Utah is ranked as the most charitable state in the nation? According to USA Today, Utah topped the nation both in terms of money donated and time volunteered. Rounding out the top five were Maryland, Minnesota, Wyoming and Wisconsin. The least charitable state: Hawaii. California, the Golden State, ranked a lowly 43 among all states.

NEW LIFE FOR MALLS?

Across America malls are struggling to compete in this new age of online shopping and the demise of local retail. But some are finding new life by converting retail space once devoted to shoes and sweaters to treadmills and weight machines, opening up thousands of square feet to state-of-the-art gyms. In Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., one mall now sports a huge gym in a former department store space next door to a juice bar, restaurant and Trader Joe's. I wonder if the folks who bought the old East Hills Mall have thought about incorporating a gym into their plans for the new project?

CSUB

Congratulations to CSUB for joining the Big West Athletic Conference, a pure natural fit for the Roadrunners to compete in almost all sports. And the best part? CSUB gets to play its natural rivals, from Cal Poly to UC San Diego to CSU Northridge and Long Beach State. Fans will be able to travel to games and the university saves $400,000 not traveling to far flung destinations like Seattle, Chicago and San Antonio. I am told that President Horace Mitchell, who will retire next year, worked tirelessly to make this happen. That's a big feather in his cap on his way out the door to retirement.

MAMMOTH

Good news for all you skiers and snow bunnies out there. Mammoth Mountain is getting some snow, as much as eight inches the other night, ushering in a ski season that will be welcomed here in the lower valley.

SPOTTED ON TWITTER

"The endless expanse of red brake lights on freeways trying to leave Los Angeles for Thanksgiving was our Fall foliage."

ST. FRANCIS

St. Francis is holding one of its big winter fundraisers on Saturday, Dec. 2, when it presents A Night in Assisi at the St. Francis Youth Center. Tickets go for $75 each and that includes wine tastings, local breweries and hors d'oeuvres. You can purchase tickets online at www.adventwine.com or by calling Carla at (661) 327-4734.

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at rsbeene@yahoo.com. His work appears on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.

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