BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — You may have seen our past story about a local woman helping out the community with a “Giving Bench."
Well in this week’s Kern’s Kindness, we are reconnecting with Francine Papadimitrakis as she shows us how she's making Halloween in 2020 work not just for her family, but her neighbors too.
“We want to provide for the kids because we hear it’s a struggle," she said. "They’re not socializing and struggling with all the online classes, and just giving a little bit of normalcy, a little bit of joy.”
Friday evening, Francine invited community members to bring their children to her front yard turned pumpkin patch.
“Kids are not in school and they are not doing the traditional visit to the pumpkin patch, so we’re doing that for our friends in our neighborhood. We're allowing them to come and pick pumpkins, and play three little games, and we have packaged foods," she said.
Francine’s grandchildren are in online school, and she said she wanted to help them and other kids feel a sense of normalcy during the Halloween season.
“I think they’ve inspired me and I thought, well not only for them - Why not for the kids that we’ve gotten to know that are friends in our neighborhood now?” said Francine.
And of course social distancing, face masks and hand sanitizer were all a part of the event.
This isn’t Francine’s first time giving back to her community. She also keeps up the Giving Bench, a bench outside her house filled with items for anyone in need.
The Giving Bench as grown since it first started, and Francine even converted her yard into a garden. She also has a free library now that has connected her with some special people.
“A little gentleman that I’d never met who lives in Kern City comes every day now and picks a new book, and he’s like an adopted grandpa," she said.
Francince said she’s grateful for support from others, and that she’s only a small part of the generosity and kindness she sees around her.
“I must say I have lovely friends who have helped me purchase games and help me purchase the pumpkins, some of them. It’s a group. It’s a community," she said.
We’re always looking for the next person to feature in Kern’s Kindness. If you have someone in mind, email us your idea at firstname.lastname@example.org.