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By Henry A. Barrios
BY HILLARY HAENES, Californian staff writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hernandez family has been grateful to receive basic necessities such as food and clothing, and even a new place to live with the help of the non-profit organization Love In the Name of Christ, also known as Love INC.
"It helped us. We received food for Thanksgiving two times already. They even babysitted us," said 10-year-old Miguel Hernandez.
Bakersfield is a generous community, particularly during the holidays. To help readers find new ways to give back to neighbors and friends, The Californian is featuring a wide array of non-profit organizations this season.
Top needs at Love INC of Kern County throughout the year:
Personal items (shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, deodorant, laundry soap, diapers, wet wipes, toilet paper, etc.)
Bus passes (day, week, month)
Gently used furniture (couches, tables, mattresses. Must be in good to excellent condition.)
Money donations (buys groceries, I.D. cards, birth certificates, notary services)
Volunteers (office phone, furniture volunteer, administration volunteer)
Love In the Name of Christ
Mailing address: P.O. Box 10082, Bakersfield, CA 93389 Physical address: 1030 Stockton St., Bakersfield, CA 93305
Administration: (661) 325-6838
Clearinghouse/Client: (661) 325-8838
The Bakersfield Love INC affiliate has served the needs of families within the community for almost 25 years. Typically, Love INC helps about 140 families each month, but during the holiday season, the number has increased to more than 200 families, said Executive Director Carmel Hicks.
More than 150 local churches collaborate with Love INC to provide families with basic necessities and holiday gifts. But with the state of the economy right now, more people are in need and churches are running out of supplies to give.
"It was the best time of our lives. We got everything we wanted, remote control cars, sweatshirts, backpacks," Miguel said about last Christmas.
The young boy is an old soul. Miguel has matured quickly because he has to take on many responsibilities such as translating for both of his parents, watching his three younger siblings and doing chores around the house.
Miguel's mom, Carmen Hernandez, is on daily dialysis because her kidneys are failing. She also has heart complications.
Miguel's father, Miguel Hernandez Sr., usually works in the fields three times a week, but has not had work the last two weeks and is looking to find another job to help pay for his wife's dialysis.
"Sometimes it makes me sad because I remember the good times we had before my mom was sick," the younger Miguel said.
With everything this family continues to go through, they remain in high spirits and only ask for necessities this holiday season.
"My wish is to get a new car so my dad could go to work, for my mom to be cured and my dad to find a better job," said the younger Miguel.
Two months ago, the Hernandez family lived in a one-room garage, but Love INC, found them a house.
"I've been here for eight years. It is always great to see the partnership of people working together to help transform lives in the name of Christ," Hicks said.
Love INC is a clearinghouse that verifies the legitimacy of those in need. It is not just people who have lost their jobs who come to Love INC for help. Many middle to low income families contact Love INC for not only material needs, but help with financial problems.
"We try to see the bigger picture. We want to know what it is going to take to move people out of their circumstances," Hicks said.
Love INC does all of the advocacy work and tries to see if those who seek help from them fit their criteria.
The purpose of this non-profit is to connect with multiple churches within a community so that needs do not go unmet. Love INC verifies the information and coordinates resources and services so nobody who qualifies is turned away.
For example, if someone needs a job, a volunteer from Love INC drops that person off to get appropriate clothes for an interview, then chauffeurs them to get a valid I.D., drops them off at the interview and then takes them home. If that person lands the job, Love INC could provide bus passes for transportation.
There are more than 140 affiliates in 30 states across the country that have helped nearly one million people.