Homeless get more than just a meal on Thanksgiving

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(R) Genoveva Perez received a haircut from Jose Andrew Parra Rodriguez, owner of Bulldog Barber Shop who donated his time to provide free haircuts to the homeless population in Calexico.

CALEXICO – Sitting at a dinner table, surrounded by family and friends, enjoying a warm meal on Thanksgiving Day is a tradition for most, however that is not the case for the less fortunate, especially those living on the streets.

Co-founder of the Brown Bag Coalition, Maribel Padilla, along with family members and volunteers put on aprons and provided a sit down dinner for the homeless population Thanksgiving Day at the Women’s Improvement Club of Calexico.

“Some of the homeless have been cast out from their families for various reasons, so for some we are the only family they have, and what do you do for the holidays, you spend it with family,” said Padilla.

However, the day began for the homeless at Our Lady of Guadalupe Men’s Shelter where Bulldog Barber Shop provided free haircuts to men and women.

“This is the second year I donated my time,” said Jose Andrew Parra Rodriguez, owner of Bulldog Barber Shop. “It’s a way of giving back to the community and a way of saying thank you for the continued support.”

Rodriguez keeps active with charity, not only with haircuts, but also donating to Toy’s for Tot’s and Christmas parades.

“I feel my barber shop is part of the community, therefore giving back whether it is time or toys, gives me great satisfaction.”

Vagrant Genoveva Perez said she was in dire need of a haircut and felt blessed to finally get a free haircut.

The shelter provided showers along with a fresh pair of clothes, shoes, new undergarments and toiletries donated by community members.

“No one knows the struggle a woman goes through when one is homeless,” said Esperanza, who chose not to use her real name. “Being in the streets, having to eat from a dumpster is a very sad life I don’t wish upon anyone. Knowing that today I will have a warm meal and warm clothing fills my heart with joy. I am very grateful for Maribel Padilla who always thinks of us, the homeless population, that society tends to forget about.”

In the meantime the Women’s Improvement Club provided homeless individuals with a warm place to rest for about 4 hours or if they chose to watch television and or play table games.

El Centro TV Repair provided televisions while Desert Wireless provided Direct TV programing.

Calexico McDonald’s, Proyecto Heber and local resident, Loli Torres, sponsored a turkey dinner with all the trimmings which fed over 60 men, women, and children.

“Giving is a year round thing, not just at holiday times,” said Padilla. “The hunger is there all of the time. We (Brown Bag Coalition) feed 365 days a year. There is no holidays for us, and therefore we would highly appreciate more people volunteering or sponsoring meals any of those 365 days.”

According to Padilla, since the Coalition became a non-profit earlier this year it has seen more doors open along with bigger donations but still not enough to feed year round.

“I encourage the community to get involved and get out there and help in any way possible,” said Padilla.

Maribel Padilla can be contacted via Facebook or by dialing (760) 604-3107.