Thousands received a holiday meal

largest local effort to help less fortunate

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A united effort of several churches served 20,000 needy people a Thanksgiving meal.

A group of about 5,000 volunteers gave up a part of their day to make a difference this holiday for someone else.

"The neat thing about this is that they have an overwhelming desire in their heart to love somebody, and I believe that's God working through us," said Brandon Smith, organizer

Love For Thanksgiving, an organization that started up five years ago with only a few volunteers, has now skyrocketed with thousands of people wanting to serve.

The annual event is organized by Smith and is usually held at Allen's automotive on south Chester, but the event out-grew that parking lot.
This year, the group took over the Costco parking lot on Rosedale Highway.

"My Thanksgivings have changed. It's not about running around and doing for me, it's about giving to those who don't have anything," said Denice Penilla, volunteer.

Like a fine-tuned assembly line, volunteers worked together to organize the food cartons.

"It's incredible that you can get this many people together to do this for people that are less fortunate. I think it is great that everybody is working together," said Chad Patton, volunteer.

Then they hand delivered those meals to 20,000 people throughout Kern County.

"People say so much about Bakersfield and this town is about family. It's not about the stuff we can buy and what we can have. When you get down to it, it's about loving people," said Penilla

One group delivered 500 meals to church Without Walls in Oildale.

"My family can't afford Thanksgiving this year and I'm glad I'm here right now eating this good food," said Francisco Palafox, recipient.

Organizers not only want to help the less fortunate, but want to empower volunteers to keep the spirit of giving alive every day.

"I hope at the end of the day they go away changed and that tomorrow when they wake up, they look to reach out to another family, maybe even the same one they delivered to, and think of other people more than themselves," said Smith.


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