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Rotary completes 12 Days of Christmas

Rotary Club of Tehachapi

Approximately 20 years ago, the Rotary Club began its Senior Luncheon program in December, serving residents a full holiday meal, which included turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, dinner rolls, drinks and pumpkin pie. All free of charge. That first year we had eight people in attendance.

Since that first luncheon, it has continued to grow until 2018 when we had over 300 attendees to serve. Many donations were made in order to serve so many people, including from Beth in the deli department at Save Mart supermarket, who cooked 22 or 23 turkeys overnight, free of charge to Rotary. She deboned and delivered them to McMullen Hall at St. Malachy's church. Albertson's grocery store donated pumpkin pies, as well as poinsettia plants as centerpieces, which were given away at the end of the luncheon.

There were many raffle prizes, and all attendees were given a free raffle ticket. It was great fun to give away so many items and hear everyone scream and yell that their table was winning all the gifts. I remember one gentleman won a box of fancy soaps and wanted to know if someone thought he smelled bad. Another year, a Rotarian's wife had brought decorations for the raffle table which got included in the giveaway. They were nice decorations, so someone benefited. She was very gracious about that, and had a great laugh. The Interact Club from Tehachapi High School served those in attendance and handed out all the prizes, as well as singing Christmas carols. Great fun all through the day.

The owner of Windswept Ranch in Rosamond attended many times with her live reindeer for everyone to enjoy. That was quite a chore loading up those reindeer, bringing a fence to set up in order to keep them from roaming around Tehachapi, then loading them up again to get them back home. We all enjoyed that.

Our own Rotarian, Jerry Hildreth, played Santa Claus, handing out candy canes and wishing "Ho Ho Ho" to everyone. Dr. Terry Brady was his main elf, wearing a green elf hat, helping Santa carry his bag of candy canes. Jerry and Dr. Brady have both passed away since our last luncheon, but they are carrying on elsewhere I am sure.

Once COVID-19 hit the population, we were unable to have people gather, which was a great loss for all of us.

Since we were unable to hold the luncheon any longer, the Rotary Club knew we needed to do something for our community.

We decided on the "12 Days of Christmas" food giveaway and went to the public to ask for donations to help those in need. We made a list of 24 basic items, asked that those items be purchased and put in a box to be delivered to those in need on a specific date.

The community came out in full force. We had boxes overflowing, not only with the 24 items we requested, but additional items that all can use. Socks, blankets, shampoo, soap, cookies, boxes of candy, t-shirts, toilet paper, tissues, etc. Everyone was very generous.

A number of community members would fill two or three or four boxes and drop them off without requesting any praise or being noticed for their generosity. Terra Gen, a very generous business, donated $1,000 for purchasing whatever was needed to help out. That donation was very much appreciated. Thank you, Terra Gen.

We had drop-off spots around town that included The Loop newspaper, Tehachapi News, City Hall and the Police Department. We would receive calls saying, "We have boxes filling our lobby, could you please come pick them up." That first year we had collected and distributed well over 200 boxes of goods to a lot of grateful people.

Mountain Bible Church, on Maple St. and Mountain View Ave., allowed us to store all the boxes and goods in their main hall until we were ready to prepare and distribute. That was a great benefit to us, even accommodating us outside of their time at the church.

On preparation day, Rotarians and others showed up in force at the church to make sure the boxes were all ready to go. All were amazed at the generosity of the community with everything that was donated.

On distribution day, city workers (headed up by Key Budge – thanks for that Key), along with Rotarians and even the police department, including the Chief, along with City Manager Greg Garrett, made short work of getting the boxes out to their vehicles, getting them delivered to homes all over the Tehachapi Valley.

The Rotary Club of Tehachapi will continue our good work well into the future. Watch for our events around town, including our Wine Pairing Dinner, Fashion Show, Tea Party, Scholarship donations to high school graduates, Mental Health Walks, SayYes, Breakfast with Santa, Interact Clubs at THS and Valley Oaks Charter High School. Be sure to check out the Peace Pole installed by Rotary at Centennial Plaza.

Thank you to all who recognize and help our club be successful and beneficial to our community.

For info on joining, contact Tim Trujillo, membership chairman, at (661) 821-0086 or [email protected]/.