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Turkey Drive: Teen volunteers with SLO Food Bank that once helped him

David Bautista
SLO Food Bank volunteer David Bautista helps fill bag at Nipomo distribution site. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

NIPOMO, Calif. -- David Bautista knows all about the SLO Food Bank.

The 19-year-old Nipomo resident once was a client himself, but is now a longtime volunteer for the San Luis Obispo-based non-profit organization.

"Growing up, being from a single mother household, my mom and I and my siblings had to rely a lot on the Food Bank, especially for meals, lunch, breakfast and dinner," said Bautista. "Without the food distribution, I guess my siblings and I would have starved."

After receiving that much-needed assistance, it inspired Bautista to give back as a 14-year-old freshman at New Tech High School.

"He came to us on his own volition," said Rosemary Cleaves, South SLO County Womenade president. "He saw it on the bulletin board at school, so he came to volunteer and he's come almost every single time that we've had a distribution."

It was through that opportunity that Bautista began to work as a volunteer at SLO Food Bank's distribution location at Nipomo Elementary School.

"I just came because I wanted to give a little thank you," said Bautista, who has now been a SLO Food Bank volunteer for the past six years. "I thought it was very important to give back."

Once a month, on each second Tuesday, Food Bank hosts a distribution site that is staffed and supported by South SLO County Womenade, a local non-profit organization that assists individuals and families in need.

"It's been very eye opening," said Bautista. "I get to see little kids get food, their parents. It's nice knowing that they're able to get some free food, and especially during these times with COVID, I think the need for food was always there, but with COVID, it's skyrocketed ."

Many of the clients at the Nipomo location are among those who will benefit directly from the KCOY NewsChannel 12 Turkey Drive.

"People that are going to receive our turkeys are people like the folks that are waiting behind me," said Branna Still, SLO Food Bank Development Director, while at this week's Nipomo distribution. "They are people going to different agency partners looking for assistance and for a happy holiday meal. Truly your donations will help support their Thanksgiving tradition and allow them to have a turkey and all of the trimmings as well."

The Turkey Drive is happening now and concludes on Thursday, November 19.

All proceeds benefit  thousands of clients with Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Barbara County and SLO Food Bank in San Luis Obispo County.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the Turkey Drive efforts this year are being directed towards an online fundraising campaign.

Contributions can be made online. Donations can also be made by phone by texting @KCOY TURKEY to 52014.

Now a sophomore at Allan Hancock College, Bautista wants others to help support community members in need and hopes that perhaps his service may inspire others.

"I'm now in a position in which I can help others and to think possibly another little kid out there that is going through the same thing that I went through," said Bautista. "Maybe in a couple of years is going to be in the same position as I am volunteering, giving back to the community is mind blowing to me."

For more information, or to donate, visit the KCOY NewsChannel 12 Turkey Drive webpage.

Author Profile Photo

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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