Kick-starting the holiday season, the ninth Giving Thanks by Giving Back luncheon on November 18, benefiting Bay Scholars, is always a heartfelt fete. The 350 guests at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in the Merchants Exchange Building raised more than $1.1 million for merit-based scholarships granted by this organization, founded by Nob Hill Gazette owners Janet and Clint Reilly.

Since inception, Bay Scholars has provided more than a thousand low-income students with full-ride scholarships — totaling more than $10 million — to attend 13 Bay Area Catholic schools, from Saint Francis High School in Mountain View to Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco to Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. And thanks to a multiyear, million-dollar pledge by John M. Sobrato (son of philanthropists Sue and John A. Sobrato), Bay Scholars will add four San Jose high schools to its roster (Archbishop Mitty, Bellarmine College Preparatory, Notre Dame and Presentation).