Tehachapi is such a kind and generous community, and the Salvation Army is extremely grateful. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, we had several events including the Thanksgiving food baskets, Christmas food baskets, Angel Tree children’s toy drive, kettle drive and coat drive.

We are so successful because of the many community volunteers and the plentiful donations of food, toys and clothing from community organizations and individuals.

Words cannot fully express my gratitude, and there are too many folks to thank individually, but I would like to specifically thank the Angel Tree volunteers who worked many long days. I would like to thank Don Napier who coordinated the kettle drive, every person who came out and rang that amazing red kettle, and Cathy Criger and her volunteers who not only coordinated the Angel Tree toy drive, but also met several of the needs.

A big thank you to the Association of Realtors who also stepped in to complete the needs of the toy drive. A big thank you to the Tehachapi Unified School District board members for the use of their facilities and a big thank you to the teachers, students and parents of Cummings Valley Elementary, Tompkins Elementary and Tehachapi High School who donated money and food. In all, they donated more than 10,000 pounds of food. Just amazing!

Other contributors include the Mojave CHP, Kern County Sheriff’s Office, Bear Valley Police Department, LeHigh union members, local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Rotary, National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Linda Carhart and The Apple Festival, Thunder on the Mountain, the California Correctional Institution, Albertson’s, SaveMart, Kmart, and Vestas.

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to every individual in the community for their open hearts and compassion which is a blessing to the people of Tehachapi who are in need. Without you, people would be hungry or cold and children would not have new toys at Christmas. I know that those in need feel immense gratitude and will always remember this and pay it forward. In a time of such divisiveness, this community came together to serve the better purpose and met the need.

Sandy Chavez is the Tehachapi Salvation Army center coordinator.