Carnales Unidos bills itself as a car club that does philanthropy on the side, but a half-hour chat with the group's president makes it clear this is a philanthropy club that does cars on the side.
"The bottom line is that we look for responsible people to carry the legacy," said Harvey Reyes of the organization he started in 1975. "You could have the best car in town or just a regular car, but the focus is community service, number one."
On Sunday the club will hold its annual car show, featuring an array of vehicles -- motorcycles, classic rides, tricycles -- and entertainment. All told, Reyes expects about 300 entries in a staggering 54 categories and upwards of 2,000 people.
But it wasn't the car show the Bakersfield Adult School counselor wanted to talk up during an interview Monday. There's a 7-year-old Bakersfield girl named Leshly Quintero whose family will benefit from the event's proceeds.
Leshly suffers from leukemia, and her treatment sends the Quinteros up and down Highway 99 to the children's hospital in Madera four times a week. Gas alone is a crippling expense for Leshly's father, who works for minimum wage, Reyes said.
"One of my buddies works at Horace Mann Elementary, where Leshly goes to school. They did a home visit and found out she had a terrible illness, so he knew we do community events. We voted on it and decided to help her and this family."
Reyes and the 20 other members of the club have checked in with the family from time to time and have already offered money and other assistance. Except for medical appointments, Leshly can no longer leave the house, Reyes said. During a recent visit, the girl told him something that touched him deeply:
"She said, 'I don't want to stay in second grade all my life. I want to go to third grade.'"
The members of Carnales Unidos (Brothers United in English) have raised money for the Wounded Warriors Fund, March of Dimes and the Sheriff's Activity League, among other groups.
"We helped a family in Arvin where a fire hurt the little boys," Reyes recalled. "We saw it in the paper, so we reached out to the family and gave them $2,000. They rented a better home because they were staying at a motel."
Reyes is hoping to raise a similar figure for Leshly, after paying for the expenses associated with putting on a car show: fairgrounds rental, trophies, security, fliers, entertainment, etc. Local attorney H.A. Sala has made a sizable donation, Reyes said.
Not to be forgotten amid all the good intentions is the car show itself. Reyes has three cars: a 1964 Impala Super Sport, a 1981 Lincoln Continental and a 1994 Cadillac.
"They're my children. You can't choose which one you like best.
"But our cars are secondary. We go to church and we're Christian. Everyone cries that things need to be done and no one's doing anything about it. We've been doing something since 1975."