Local News

Thursday, Nov 22 2012 07:53 PM

Project unwraps free food for less fortunate

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Laura Davidson hands a thanksgiving dinner to one of the estimated 300 to 500 people who attended the annual Thanksgiving dinner held at Mission at Kern County. Davidson is a graduate of the women's program at the Mission.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Noel Villarreal, left, visits with his friend Lamell Stille just as Stille was finishing his dinner at The Mission at Kern County. Villarreal is in the men's program at the Mission and both men wanted to thank Jesus for everything they had on Thanksgiving.

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  3. 3 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Ramon Renola was one of the estimated 300 to 500 people at The Mission at Kern County who showed up for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The Mission at Kern County was formerly known as the Bakersfield Rescue Mission.

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  4. 4 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Amanda Roche' maneuvers thru The Mission at Kern County crowd with a tray of Thanksgiving pies.

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  5. 5 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Pete Gaona, left, and Floyd Rambeau, right, with their dessert pies, just delivered by nine-year-old Braden Stitt at the annual Thanksgiving dinner held at the The Mission at Kern County.

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  6. 6 of 6

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Melinda Stevens, right, hands Don Mootry a t-shirt as others browse through clothes at the Bakersfield Burrito Project. Held this year at American Sound Recording Studios in downtown Bakersfield, those in need were also given breakfast burritos and hygiene kits.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Latashanay Jones looked through some blankets and pajamas stacked in the parking lot of American Sound Recording Studios, looking for something for her daughter.

Soon a volunteer came over holding two foil-wrapped burritos for Jones and her daughter. Jones was just walking by when she saw what was happening in the parking lot, and her Thanksgiving was now looking up thanks to the free food and clothing.

"They treat you very nice here," Jones said.

"They" are the volunteers from the Bakersfield Burrito Project, who, along with other groups, provided free food to hundreds of homeless or struggling local residents Thanksgiving day.

Volunteers began handing out food and clothing about 10 a.m., said project board member Jason Rickett. In addition to burritos, there were cupcakes, oranges, chips and other snack foods, water, and bags of hygiene products.

Rickett said he's glad the community came together to support them after it was discovered a permit Rickett had purchased a few days earlier was inadequate.

A Bakersfield city parks official told Rickett the project needed $1,075 in permits, insurance and a sponsor with tax-exempt status because it was a public event. Kern County Supervisor Karen Goh stepped in Monday evening and helped secure the American Sound Recording site.

Rickett said Goh's help and the support of others was much appreciated. In all, Rickett estimated they'd end up serving about 150 people.

"Sometimes when you're fighting a war in the trenches you don't realize you have air support," he said.

A couple of hours later, a turkey dinner with sides including mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing was served at The Mission at Kern County. More than 300 were fed, with many browsing piles of clothing just outside the building where they were served.

Mission Executive Director Carlos Baldovinos said about 80 volunteers plus mission staff made the dinner possible.

"A lot of these folks don't have anywhere to go," Baldovinos said. "This is home."

Mark Becktel said the meal definitely made a positive difference in his day. He was heading back for seconds.

Karl Fell, who's been at the mission for about 10 days, said he tried a little bit of everything. He's hoping to be moving on soon.

"It makes all the difference in the world when you're stuck someplace," Fell said of the holiday meal.

After dinner, Kirby Ansley was picking up a blanket from the clothing items lying on tables outside. He said the blanket he's currently using at the mission has worn a little thin.

He appreciated everything the volunteers did for him and others with nowhere else to go this holiday.

"I think it's a blessing, and I think the Lord has something special in mind for (the volunteers)," Ansley said.

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