BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — For so many people, Thanksgiving is a time to give back, and today our community did just that. Community members came out on Thanksgiving to give back, not just through a hot meal but also those who came by were able to grab a coat or a pair of socks.
The Mission at Kern and the Blessing Corner each served about 500 meals for those who otherwise may have not had a warm plate today.
Volunteers poured in as early as 5 a.m. Thursday to prep the mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing and everything they would need for the scale of people they were feeding.
Some of those who enjoyed a warm meal were Whitney Shaw and her son Hasten. Shaw graduated from the Mission's Women Program and is now living at their transition home.
Shaw says that for a while she was on the streets alone trying to figure out her next move. When she found out she was pregnant, she knew she had to make changes to provide for her son, and says this holiday she is thankful for that decision.
“I’m thankful I got another chance at life and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come,” said Shaw.
Like her, those who came out to get a hot meal, didn't just get that, they were also able to look through racks of coats, pick one out, even some socks or beanies.
James Copley, a resident at the Mission of Kern, said this year he has a lot to be thankful for. He regained his family after a relapse caused issues at home which led to him being on the streets for weeks until he entered the program at the mission.
“When they start to say, ‘we’re glad to have you back Dad, we’re glad to see you doing good, we are proud of you, keep going to the program’ it is just like a thousand pounds of bricks taken off your chest.”
His family came to have a meal with him and see where he is staying. They also spent some time volunteering and helping people get coats to take with them.
Among those handing out the socks and coats were parent volunteers who hoped to teach their children the importance of giving back to the community.
“I actually grew up with not much, so I like to bring him because he has so much and to know that there are people that need help and heed love and that he can bring that to them just being here,” said volunteer Audrey Abromovich.
10-year-olds Rodney Downs and Cohen Abromovich felt the same way.
“It gives me this warm feeling inside, that I really am doing something good, and I hope it makes a difference in their life too,” said Downs.
“Get things that they do not have, and it is nice to be out here and meet new people, so they have more people to remember in their lives after this wonderful moment,” said Abromovich.
Abromovich and Downs were busy handing out socks to those who came through.
One of those who received some socks, is mission resident Cedric Brooks, or as everyone at the mission calls him, Brother Brooks
Brooks says he has come a long way and feels honored he was able to help out at the pray tent, praying for those who are now in the situation he found himself in before entering the program.
“I feel privileged to pray for them because that in itself is a blessing. Because God chose me to give to others,” said Brooks.
The mission said they were able to serve about 500 meals and were happy to see so many people volunteer after COVID limited them last year.
The Blessing Corner says they also cooked and packed about 500 meals saying they are happy to give back to their neighbors.
“If somebody doesn't have a place to go, a family to call home, come join us for a meal. That is really why we did it. Especially as hard as this year has been, if a person doesn't have a family, why not join us,” said Carlos Baldovinos, Executive Director at Mission at Kern County.
Those who came out here to get a hot meal or a coat say the best part is being seen by the community and feeling supported.