Kern County is known for its generosity. When called upon to provide for the needs of the community, companies and individuals alike rise to the occasion. While Give Big Kern is a well-known annual event, there are ways to contribute year-round to help sustain our local nonprofits.

The Bakersfield Homeless Shelter relies upon donations and volunteers to keep its doors open. The only shelter in the county for women and children, its 174 beds are always full and often overflowing, said Cindy Lyday, external affairs manager.

Although Lyday had volunteered for the center’s biggest fundraiser, the Boots and Bachelor Auction, for 10 years, it wasn’t until CEO Louis Gill gave her a tour of their licensed child care center that it became clear to her that she needed to do more. When she noticed a child at the center wearing a shirt her daughter had outgrown and she’d recently donated, the immediacy of the need really struck her.

“We just get tunnel vision, (but) if you open up your heart and eyes and take the time to see,” said Lyday. “I have a picture of my daughter wearing that shirt to remind me of why I do what I do.”

The child care center provides single mothers with the support they need to take classes or enroll in the center’s job program.

“We really are grateful for Kern County – this community really steps up and it’s something I’ve never seen before anywhere else; the way we band together is amazing,” said Lyday.

Another organization that relies on local generosity is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Founded in 1980, MADD’s mission is to end drunken driving, help fight drugged driving and underage drinking, as well as offer support to the victims of these crimes. With only one paid employee in Kern County, they depend greatly on volunteers.

“These volunteers come from all walks of local life – victims, business people, local law enforcement and other supporters,” said Jorge Barrientos, marketing director for Chain Cohn Stiles and a board member for MADD Kern County.

“(The) problem affects everyone and so it takes everyone to make a change,” said Barrientos, who chairs the planning committee for MADD’s biggest fundraiser, the annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash.

The donations they receive from supporters, provide them with the means to continue prevention education and offer support to victims and their families.

While there is no shortage of need in our community, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Donate your time, funds or expertise and find a way to make a difference today. 

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