By Louis Medina, Director of Community Impact 

Throughout April, the Bakersfield News Observer will feature stories contributed by local nonprofits participating in the Give Big Kern online fundraising campaign.

Observed on the first Tuesday in May, Give Big Kern is a dynamic and fun day of giving hosted by Kern Community Foundation to foster local philanthropy in support of 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in Kern County. The effort allows nonprofits registered with the Foundation to gain visibility as they engage the entire community in “One day to celebrate the giving spirit of Kern County!” But, in order to not keep early-bird donors waiting, the website givebigkern.org starts receiving donations a month out: So, from April 4 through May 4 this year, anyone willing to make a minimum online donation of $5 can visit givebigkern.org, search among more than 100 participating organizations, and give to the causes they care about, or pledge volunteer hours.

The public’s generosity thus helps meet local charities’ needs—including those caused by the ongoing pandemic. Because it is an online effort, Give Big Kern is a safe, social-distancing-compliant way for nonprofits to fundraise—and it is free to participating agencies thanks to our generous sponsors’ support. Small transaction fees charged per donation are covered by donors.

Since its launch in 2016, Give Big Kern has raised more than $1.7 million from thousands of community members to benefit hundreds of local charities. Our best year so far was 2020: Less than two months into the COVID shut down, Give Big Kern raised close to three-quarters of a million dollars for 125 participating agencies. Give Big Kern is the 2019 and 2020 winner of the Beautiful Bakersfield Award for helping to create “A Better Bakersfield.”

Our mascot, Billy the Give Big Goat, encourages everyone to “Give B-i-i-i-g!” once again in 2021. Simply go to givebigkern.org, find your passion, and give!

Consider giving locally to the charities featured in the pages of the Bakersfield News Observer this week and in the following issues till the end of the month. Because Give Big Kern also involves a friendly competition for prizes that go to the top performing organizations, who knows: You might help your favorite nonprofit earn some extra cash as icing on the cake! For more information, write to us at info@kernfoundation.org.


Give Big Kern, an online fundraiser to support local nonprofits, lasts from April 4 to May 4. Just go to givebigkern.org, find a nonprofit you feel passionate about, and, as Mascot Billy the Give Big Goat likes to say, “Give B-I-I-I-G!”

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Children to Love International

Two of the girls from the Children to Love International children’s home in India. (Photo courtesy of Children to Love International)

By Julie Bell, Communications Coordinator

Children to Love International (CTL) was founded in 1993 in response to the Romanian orphan crisis. CTL began with Americans bringing milk and vitamins to children cared for in Romanian government orphanages and has grown into a 501(c)(3) organization with partner ministries in Romania, India, Uganda, Ukraine and Thailand serving over 1,000 children and many others.

CTL comes alongside and empowers local, in-country ministries that are serving as protective havens for vulnerable children, investing in long-term relationships that result in lasting community and life change. These ministries are led by skilled and trained professionals serving within their own communities.

Though most things in our lives have been canceled or postponed over the last year, loving and serving children and families has not. Our partners have been able to help nearly 20,000 people during this pandemic. Ministry has looked different, but they have continued to serve the least, the lost and the littlest. Closed borders and mandatory quarantines have required the ministries to readapt and devise new and creative ways to serve children and families from a distance—as well as to bring the light and hope of Jesus to those on the streets.

Though government regulations have changed things quite drastically, God is at work and is meeting needs through Children to Love. Last year, Give Big Kern allowed us to raise funds to help our partners not only survive but thrive during COVID-19. And they’ve done just that! Through this year’s Give Big Kern efforts, we’re hoping to introduce more community members to CTL’s mission and raise funds to further our work and invest in new and ongoing special projects. Donate to us by visiting givebigkern.org and searching for “children to love.”

If you’d like to learn more about Children to Love, visit our website childrentolove.org or call 661-588-9000.

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Kern Community Tennis Association

Arvin Girls’ Varsity Squad picking up equipment donated to their team. (Photo courtesy of Kern Community Tennis Association)

By Jerry Matthews, Board Member

The past year has reminded us of the value of many things we were taking for granted. Seeing children return to their classrooms and extracurricular activities is wonderful. Kern Community Tennis Association has promoted physical fitness through tennis in our community for nearly 60 years. That mission was expanded in 2018 to provide necessary equipment to the hundreds of student athletes who were being excluded from these activities because they could not afford their own.

Requests were more than we anticipated and soon overwhelmed our modest budget, but we also received great community support. We succeeded by running a very efficient operation and aggressively pursuing new sponsors. During the first two years, we donated over 700 tennis racquets, 400 pairs of shoes, and 10,000 practice balls to 26 high schools. The original retail value of that equipment exceeded $200,000, but we were able to deliver it for a small fraction of that cost by establishing partnerships with major retailers, using all volunteer labor, and building a strong network with high school coaches.

Playing tennis is certainly fun, but tennis is just a means to an end. Our objective is to provide each of these young people with the opportunity to learn a lifetime sport, be part of a team, and discover that members of their community care about them. Studies have also shown that students who participate in athletics perform better in the classroom and have an increased rate of graduation.

Our objective is to donate 400 racquets and 400 pairs of shoes each school year. We have joined Give Big Kern to help us raise the $20,000 annually needed to achieve that goal and to educate the community on our impact. Donate to us by going to givebigkern.org and searching for “tennis” or “KCTA.” For more information about KCTA, please go to www.kerntennis.org or email jerrymatthews004@gmail.com.

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PathPoint

PathPoint Direct Support Professional, Maria (right) safely delivers a gift to client Tiffany for her birthday! People supported by PathPoint enjoy these much-needed celebrations during the pandemic thanks to generous donors. (Photo courtesy of PathPoint)

By Shawn White, Vice President, PathPoint Kern County

As we look ahead and see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, PathPoint would like to thank everyone who has assisted us in fulfilling our mission throughout the pandemic: supporting people in living the life they chose. While our physical facility closed temporarily, our services for individuals with developmental disabilities remain operational. Our dedicated staff are hosting daily online classes, dropping off weekly learning packets to people sheltering at home, and continuing to support people in essential jobs at places like grocery stores with onsite job coaching.

Individuals with developmental disabilities face additional challenges with the public health crisis, including underlying health issues that put them at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 and developing serious or life-threatening complications. For many, changes in routine are often disruptive, and PathPoint has stepped up to help provide extra support. In addition to offering virtual educational and vocational classes, we have been offering much-needed pre-pandemic activities, such as birthday celebrations for the people we support with socially distanced gift drop-offs and drive-by celebrations. Recently, people with disabilities were prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine and we are supporting them in obtaining appointments and accommodations as needed.

The impact of the pandemic will remain through 2021 and continued financial support from the community will be used to meet critical needs, such as funding assistive technology for individuals to access online classes and making health and safety modifications to our facility in anticipation of welcoming individuals back to our programs in person. For more information about PathPoint’s services, please contact Shawn White at (661) 809-6848 or visit www.PathPoint.org. Donate to us by going to givebigkern.org and searching for “pathpoint.”