A long line of people stood waiting at the gymnasium doors of Monroe High School Wednesday morning, all anxious to get inside and begin selecting new and gently-used clothing made available to them through the Salvation Army's annual back-to-school drive.
Eligible families that applied for assistance received vouchers for shoes from Kmart, backpacks, complimentary haircuts from local barbers and a large garbage bag to place selected items of clothing.
Salvation Army volunteer Shannon Willer, who assisted in the distribution, said more than 200 children received backpacks this year.
"We had community members donate about 30 of the fully-stocked backpacks, which was a huge blessing," Willer said. "The Salvation Army purchased the additional backpacks."
Willer said the Salvation Army's biggest expense in the back-to-school drive was tied up in the shoe vouchers they provided to each child good for up to $20 at Kmart.
"Some families had eight children, so this was a big help to them," Willer said.
The clothing distributed by the Salvation Army was donated by members of the community as well as the hospital's guild.
"I think what the Salvation Army does is an amazing thing," said Sage Scott, who said she was looking for items for her family. "Some people from all around come because those people don't get to go shopping or get any clothes otherwise."
For a second time, Barber D of Perfect Blend Barbershop was found snipping away at the children's long locks of hair grown over the summer vacation.
"I really enjoy doing this," Barber D said. "This is a good event, and I always appreciate what the town does for the kids because Tehachapi is such a good town."
Barber D said he was happy to do his part to give back to the community.
"I'm going to be here for as long as they need me to be," Barber D said as he looked out of the corner of his eye at the growing line of waiting children.
According to Willer, the Salvation Army saw a decrease in the number of applications it received this year for assistance.
"The need seemed to be less this year than in previous years, which is a good sign for the times," Willer said.
In addition to monetary donations, Willer said the Salvation Army is always in need of volunteers who are able to lift heavy boxes during its Fresh Rescue Program, which distributes excess food donated by local stores and restaurants on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
"We help feed anywhere from 30 to 80 people a day, with our heaviest days on Mondays and Thursdays," Willer said.
The Salvation Army is located at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd. For more information on its many services offered, call 823-9508. Location hours can also be found at salvationarmyusa.org.