Children at Bakersfield Homeless Center need holiday help

Children at Bakersfield Homeless Center need holiday help
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield Homeless Center officials say there are 116 children staying this holiday season at the shelter.

Ask many of them what they want for Christmas, and many won’t be asking for toys.

"Believe me, it's really tough out here for us," said Alfonso Ochoa, a homeless single father of two. "We were staying with friends and relatives, and we just wasn't doing good there, so we came here."

His children are just two of the 116 staying at the shelter.

Shelter external affairs manager Carolann Wooton blames the cold weather for the surge in shelter residents.

"It's been a little cold, and when it’s cold, people do tend to come in,” Wooton said.

And that means less of the essentials to go around.

"Something like hygiene items,” said Wooton, “when you have a lot of little people running around, they use a lot of that stuff.”

When Taft resident Courtney Baker-Goff heard how many children are staying at the shelter, she thought of her own daughter.

“I could ask my 6-year-old what she wants for Christmas, and it wouldn't be a toothbrush, you know, it wouldn't be a blanket. So, for kids to be asking for that, that was heartbreaking alone," Baker-Goff said.

It led Baker-Goff to share a simple Facebook post, asking friends to donate.

The response was overwhelming.

"It started where I had a trunk full of stuff, and then I had a Tahoe full of stuff, and then I literally needed a trailer," Baker-Goff said.

Wooton said the shelter relies on donations, like those coming from Baker-Goff and her friends.

“What happens when someone donates to us, is it allows us to purchase something else that we need," Wooton said.

It was a donor who paid for 30 children to see the holiday lights at the California Living Museum.

When asked what he’d like for Christmas this year, Ochoa didn’t ask for much.

"Blankets, coats," he said.