Zach Dobbins is a Tehachapi High School sophomore, a varsity wrestler, and, on this cold, blustery day, a charity volunteer, helping to bring cheer to the city's less fortunate.
"I'm just glad there are people in this town that want to help," Dobbins said.
On Monday, Dec. 19, the Warriors wrestling team — joined this year by the THS cheerleading squad — put the finishing touches on baskets going from the Sharing & Caring Center on South Pauley Street to more than 20 local families in need.
"It's a very humbling experience for the kids," wrestling coach Desi Lovenguth said. "It's something for them to think about when they start to complain, like teenagers do sometimes, about their own lives."
The wrestling team helps assemble and deliver the gift baskets twice each year — during Thanksgiving and the Christmas season — as part of a challenge laid down two years ago by a team mom, Sofia Palos.
Her family agreed to donate at least $1,000 a year to the wrestling program, if the wrestlers would agree to donate time to Sharing & Caring in memory of her deceased husband, Carlos.
Carlos Palos was killed in a midair collision of two small airplanes near San Diego on Aug. 16, 2015. His son, junior Brandon Palos, is still a member of Lovenguth's wrestling team.
On Friday, Dec. 16, Lovenguth said about 16 of his wrestlers showed up at Sharing & Caring to begin assembling the gift packages. They finished them up and delivered them the following Monday.
"Plus we had the cheerleaders help this year, so it was kind of a nifty little setup," Lovenguth said.
The Sharing & Caring Center said it picks the recipient families from those who come in for help during the year.
"This is the kind of stuff kids remember, and hopefully they'll take this with them later in life," Lovenguth said.
Lovenguth's team already has had one meet this year, the Coyote Classic on Friday, Dec. 9, at East Bakersfield High School.
Dobbins took first in his 106-pound division, and Elijah Barlow had a third-place finish at 170 pounds.
The team is tentatively scheduled to resume its season on Jan. 7 in a meet at Golden Valley High School.