While the advent calendar shows Christmas is days away, the holidays were in full swing on Wednesday, December 15 as Bakersfield Police Department delivered holiday baskets to 250 families in the community.
Minus elves and reindeers, Bakersfield Police Department held its 36th Annual Christmas Basket Giveaway on a cold winter morning in the department parking lot, where 80 police officers, detectives, cadets, and administrative staff arrived for a collaborative effort to bring holiday cheer to those having a difficult holiday season.
Bakersfield Police Department worked in tandem with the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and High Desert Distributing. Together they provided a total of 500 baskets filled with all the fixings for a traditional holiday dinner, along with toys for children.
Baskets were filled with turkeys or ham, canned green beans and corn, boxes of stuffing and beloved canned cranberry sauce. The Christmas basket giveaway is a massive endeavor that begins in the middle of summer as the department begins to coordinate with local organizations.
“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.”
Ortiz said one of the basket recipients was a woman who called the police department when her husband suffered a stroke. He didn’t make it, and the officer who handled the called added her to the Christmas basket list so she could be taken care of on her first holiday without her husband.
“There are some heartbreaking cases and calls we get,” Ortiz said. “We try to be here for our community.”