Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Lend a compassionate hand this holiday season

Grassroots Tehachapi

Generosity, kindness and compassion should be something we give others all year long.  As the holidays roll in, there are many local ways to help members of your community.

Last year, a new and exciting way to give back came from the hearts and hard work of children in the community. Layla Lujan, 15, and Milo Lujan, 12, the children of Mano and Mei Mei Lujan, owners of The Shed and Red House BBQ, came to their dad with a compassionate way to utilize the edible waste generated at the family restaurant. Layla looked at the pieces of chicken that don't get thrown on the smoker and the end pieces of vegetables that make their way to the trash and saw a delicious way to make soup for the community. 

From there, Layla and Milo's Soup for the Soul, Soup Kitchen was born.

"I'm so incredibly proud," Mano said.

Since the beginning, there was an outpouring of support and interested volunteers. What makes their journey even more touching, much of that love and support came from children in the community.

"This is 99 percent children run," Mano said, explaining that his children's friends and peers were inspired by the idea and wanted to help. 

Currently, the kitchen has a group of four to 15 children who show up every Sunday to volunteer.

Mano said they will keep running the soup kitchen as long as they can, and given the support, it looks like they'll be around for a while. People from the community often come in to drop off canned goods, rice, flour, etc. Mano also said, The Salvation Army has been generous with raw chicken donations, as well. 

"This isn't just a service for homeless, it's for everyone. There's no cash register, just a donation bucket for those who can," Mano said. "...the best part, it's run by kids and inspires other kids to do something."

If you'd like to donate money, food or volunteer your time, stop by the soup kitchen at The Shed Sundays from 4 to 6 p.m.

Marty Pay and Farmers Insurance are currently accepting Toys for Tots, all of which will be donated to local kids in need of holiday smiles. Last year during the holidays, they collected more than 500 toys. 

"This town has such a good heart and it feels good to know that these toys are going to our kids here," Pay said.

Pay and his team also hold a "Christmas in July" toy collection event. This summer they collected 301 toys.

Bring a new, unwrapped toy to one of their seven locations around town and you'll be entered into a raffle. Pay will be raffling off a 45-inch flat screen television and other gifts donated from businesses and individuals in Tehachapi. Drop off locations include the Farmers Insurance office, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Martial Arts, Country Real Estate, Tehachapi Area Association of Realtors, Bank of the West and the City of Tehachapi.

"We want to make sure every child has a toy this Christmas," he said. 

Toys will be collected through Dec. 17.

The Salvation Army has entered their busy season of giving. Here are ways that you can help their efforts.

Nov. 11 to Dec. 24: 483 bell ringers will be needed to fill two-hour shifts daily at the three locations in Tehachapi. You can sign up at http://www.registertoring.com.

Nov. 19: Thanksgiving basket giveaway. Bring proof of residency to the Tehachapi Education Center gymnasium at 11 a.m. to receive a basket full of food to share with loved ones on Thanksgiving. Because space to store food is limited, monetary donations, which will be used to buy supplies for both Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, are recommended. Of course, food donations are always welcome.

Dec. 17: Christmas basket giveaway. Bring proof of residency to the Tehachapi Education Center gymnasium at 11 a.m. According to center coordinator, Sandy Chavez, the baskets hold over 50-pounds of food.

The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program will be different this year. With Kmart closing in December, it was hoped that Walmart would step up and host the tree; however, Walmart management declined leaving the Salvation Army without a tree for their names. As a result, all the names will be available at the Salvation Army Center at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd. Host a family or host a child. Last year there were 400 names on the tree. Individuals and businesses who would like to adopt a family or a child for Christmas should pick up the name tags, fill the gift requests and bring unwrapped gifts to the Salvation Army before Dec. 13. The tags all come with directions. For more information you can contact the Salvation Army at (661) 823-9508 or Cathy Criger at (661) 972-1739

Sharing & Caring loves donations, especially this time of year. They will be giving baskets of food for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as toys and stockings for the little ones. Families who register for gifts can drop off a list of gift ideas for their kids. 

The Thanksgiving giveaway takes place Monday, Nov. 25. The Christmas giveaway takes place Friday, Dec. 20.

Visit Sharing & Caring at 203 Pauley Street to make a donation, become a volunteer or to sign up for a holiday gift basket.

This list doesn't begin to touch all the ways you can lend a caring hand this holiday season. If you have any stories of giving, ways you've shared this lesson with your children or other tales of holiday cheer, we'd love to hear about them.

See you next time and be kind to one another!

Do you know an inspirational group, individual or program that should be featured in an upcoming Grassroots Tehachapi? Email me at [email protected].