Christmas Care Project
Students from KCSOS’s Bridges Academy spread hope and encouragement to Bakersfield’s homeless population
When Kamil Dixon was a little girl, she vividly recalls a dark, cold and rainy day in Bakersfield riding on a bus with her older sister.
Stop after stop brought in more and more shivering passengers soaked from the elements outside. A woman, disheveled and exhausted, boarded at one stop. She was quickly asked to exit because she was not wearing shoes. The woman implored the driver to let her stay, pleading she needed to get to the homeless shelter. A conflict ensued, the police were called, and Kamil and her sister watched the woman disappear into the pounding rain, crying and broken.
“Unlike most of the people on the bus that day, my sister and I wished that we could have done something to help that poor woman,” Kamil recalls. “It made us very sad the way things turned out.”
The experience sparked something inside Kamil and she promised herself someday she would give back to Bakersfield’s homeless population.
Fast forward to December 19, 2016. The sky was dry on that day, but it was the coldest Bakersfield morning in recent memory, the mercury flirting with the freezing mark. Dozens of men and women lined up with all their belonging in tow for their morning meal at St. Vincent De Paul, where volunteers serve hot meals daily and provide a safe place to spend the day.
Kamil and her classmates from KCSOS’s Bridges Academy lugged boxes into the center, packed with gently used clothing, shoes and care packages filled with personal hygiene items the group had collected for what was dubbed the “Christmas Care Project.” The students spent the morning distributing the items they had collected and spreading some Christmas cheer through conversation and camaraderie.
Kamil said the project serves a dual purpose. Foremost, it will help keep people in need warm, both emotionally and physically. The project also serves to teach students at Bridges Academy the importance of giving instead of always receiving.
“I think by doing this, it will reassure many homeless people that others care about them and give them some hope and encourage,” she said.
The project was such a success the students are planning to make it an annual offering.