Tehachapi Salvation Army requests help for the Holiday Season
October 26, 2019
The Salvation Army has been providing services to Tehachapi for 19 years and continues to serve local families in spite of the fact that donations to public-benefit nonprofits have decreased in recent years. The organization has had to lay off employees and close branches; however, the San Joaquin and Tehachapi branches are still going strong thanks to the efforts of local branch manager Sandy Chavez and past manager Marget Willer.
Willer said that years ago they used to sell things to raise money for their programs but it was when they finally partnered with local churches and businesses that they were able to fully help individuals and families meet some of their most basic needs.
At a lunch meeting on Oct. 16 with representatives from local churches and organizations, Chavez outlined the programs available at the local Salvation Army Branch. The largest program by far offered in Tehachapi is their Food Pantry, said Chavez.
• Fresh Rescue is a fresh food program supplied with local donations of produce, merchandise and plants from Albertsons and Walmart. The program serviced 589 local families during the month of August 2019.
• USDA Commodities is a food program made available by the Kern County Food Bank for low income families. This program distributes items like meat and milk at 11 a.m. on the third Tuesday of the month in Tehachapi. This August 174 families were serviced, including those from as far away as California City and North Edwards.
• Senior Snack is a program for low income seniors. It is held on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. It allows seniors a chance to socialize and have snacks when they come to pick up their food from the Pantry.
• Emergency food boxes are available from the pantry if someone in need requests food. This service is available once every three months between 9 and 11 a.m. The pantry is supported by local funds, food drives and food donations from organizations like the Boy and Girl Scouts and from some local restaurants.
Programs for kids are also a large portion of the work done at the Tehachapi branch. This year the Salvation Army supplied 300 backpacks to low income children just before the beginning of the school year. Approximately 35 to 40 students currently attend a free after-school program available at the Center from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (noon on minimum days). Snacks are supplied and the kids can socialize, play games or do homework. Through a grant from the Bakersfield Californian, a STEM program was started at the Center which is currently maintained by a donation from Edison and with the help of the THS Robotics Team. Chavez said they have also received several guitars and are currently in need of a guitar instructor.
All of these programs are primarily financed through donations received during the holiday Salvation Army Kettle Drive. "All donations for Tehachapi are used in Tehachapi," said Chavez, adding that 87 cents out of every dollar goes to services with the remainder covering operational expenses.
The Salvation Army is also sponsoring the "Giving Tree" program. An individual or family can adopt a child's name from their tree. The card gives the child's sex and age and the gift most wanted from Santa this year. Unwrapped gifts will be collected in the gym at Monroe High School where they will be wrapped for distribution. Unwrapped gifts in gift bags are acceptable. They also recommend items that will get the kids to spend time outdoors.
Nov. 2 is the date for this year's Salvation Army Coats for Kids Drive from 9 to 11 a.m. New or gently used kids coats can be brought to the Salvation Army Center at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd. before that day.
The primary purpose of the Oct. 16 meeting was to get the word out that the Salvation Army needs volunteers for all their programs during the Holiday Season. The largest need is the Kettle Drive requiring 483 people to man the kettles in two-hour shifts daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at three locations in Tehachapi from Nov. 11 to Dec. 24. Anyone interested in signing up to ring can call Don Napier at (661) 520-7770. You can also sign up at http://www.volunteer.usawest.org, put in your zip code and follow the cues.
For more information or to help with the Giving Tree program call Cathy Criger and leave a message at (661) 972-1739.