I currently call Helendale, CA home. Helendale is a small, unincorporated community located in the Victor Valley in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, within the County of San Bernardino, the largest county in California and the United States by area. Just north of the Victor Valley is the City of Barstow, a transportation center which lies midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The Greater Barstow Area, which includes the communities of Lenwood, Newberry Springs, Daggett, Yermo, and Hinkley, has a population of approximately 31,442, and includes some of the poorest communities of San Bernardino County. Approximately 30% of persons in the Greater Barstow Area are living at or below poverty level. The lower cost of housing in this part of Southern California attracts fixed-income seniors and disabled individuals to the area, which increases the number of individuals in need of food assistance. Almost 70% of the students in the Barstow Unified School District are eligible for free or reduced cost meals. Approximately 43% of the residents of Barstow receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) assistance, Medi-Cal benefits, and/or participate in the CalWorks program for low-income families. The convergence of four major highways – Interstate 15, Interstate 40, California State Route 58, and U.S. Route 66 in Barstow brings a transient population homeless people and stranded travelers who require assistance before they can continue on their journey.
Desert Manna is a center of services for low-income men, women, and children – both transient and local residents of the Greater Barstow Area. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a time of focused support and increased demand to help the members of our community who are less fortunate and lack the resources to enjoy the holiday season. Desert Manna also secures and redistributes shelf stable and perishable foods to 25 other area nonprofit organizations to operate their programs throughout the Victor Valley and Los Angeles Metropolitan areas.
I have initiated a Will Swim For Food fundraising campaign with the goal of raising at least $3000 for Desert Manna. When you find yourself sated with holiday feast in your warm home surrounded by friends and loved ones this holiday season, please consider donating to Desert Manna via my fundraising page. In return, my insatiable desire to swim will be sated on January 14, 2017 when I will swim one mile around the Santa Cruz Wharf in 50F-54F water without a wetsuit, hopefully towing a duck. Will Swim for Food is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization recognized by the IRS. Tax ID Number: 46-0608612.
Thank you and have a warm and wonderful holiday season!