A group of unsung heroes from around the nation are being honored for quiet contributions to their local communities.

The Jefferson Awards, presented by American Institute for Public Service, were presented at an awards dinner Tuesday night to five individuals for their work in improving their neighborhoods and communities.Pam Marota of San Francisco created "Kimo Bear," a small stuffed animal, to ease the fears of cancer-stricken children.

So far, nearly 1,000 bears have been provided to children undergoing chemotherapy in the Bay area.

Other recipients include:

- Rose Crumb of Seattle, who has spent her adult life dedicated to hospice care and for the past 20 years has operated a voluntary community hospice for terminally ill patients in Clallam County, Washington.

- Crystal Davis, of St. Louis, Mo., who funded the Community Hope Center to help the poor, homeless, abused and elderly in Madison County, Mo.

- Carlos Spaht of Shreveport, La., a former college professor and mathematician who established a summer enrichment program for troubled youths in Shreveport.