A decades long tradition turns Bakersfield police officers into Christmas elves for one morning


On a foggy and chilly early morning at High Desert Distributing a line of police and sheriff cars began to form –as early as 6:30 a.m. – for the 38th Annual Christmas Food Basket delivery “Family to Family” event.

For one morning, Bakersfield Police officers and Kern County Sheriffs donned their Christmas spirit and delivered food and toys to local families who need extra help this holiday season.

“This is one of the most special days of year for us,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry. “Law enforcement has a unique responsibility in our community, but today is even more unique where we are actually delivering food and toys to families.”


High Desert Distributing has opened its doors for the annual event providing space, boxes, and a place for law enforcement to come together to spread cheer and support to families in need during the holiday season.

About 400 baskets were delivered by almost 100 volunteers who arrived early Tuesday morning to pick up toys and two boxes of food filled with turkey, corn, cranberry sauce, yams, oranges, carrots and margarine and green beans, potatoes, apples, onions, stuffing, bread, rice, and candy canes.

Law enforcement officials lined up waiting for their boxes and toys and were given addresses of local families who had been handpicked by law enforcement officials, nonprofits, and local shelters.

“It started 38 years ago with 25 baskets and now we are up to 400 this year and typically we can go up to 500,” said Stan Moe retired Kern County Sheriff’s Office Commander.

Minus the elves and reindeers, Bakersfield Police Department in tandem with the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and High Desert Distributing provided enough baskets of food and toys that would put presents under the tree and a holiday dinner on the table.

“Most of the names we have on our list come from referrals we get from community organizations we partner with, but we also have several from our own police officers who meet people while they are out handling calls. They remember them and when this event comes out, we take them a basket,” said Carina Ortiz, community relations supervisor. “It’s not always about financial difficulties, but sometimes it’s just tough times, people going through a difficult situation during the holidays.”

Bakersfield Police Department staff and officers put on their festive wear and headed out to pass out of food and toys to families in need. Photo by Cindy Arora 

Bakersfield Police Department’s Community Relations unit put together bags of toys filled with sherpa blankets, Barbie dolls, basketballs, board games, chalk, and stuffed animals, with the goal to bring smiles and joy to children and their families.

“We all enjoyed doing this today,” said Sgt. Diedrich who oversees the Gang Unit for Bakersfield Police Department. “Every day we are out there helping people, but this is something so different and allows us to connect with people in a different way.”

Bakersfield Police Department along with Kern County Sheriff’s Office partnered with a number of local organizations, including Motor City Lexus, Food MAXX, Rite Aid, Johnston Farms, Grimmway Farms, the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, and Sun Peak Solar Services,

A chilly Tuesday morning in Bakersfield kicked off the 38th Annual Family to Family basket delivery program. Photo by Cindy Arora