By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD – With the goal of exceeding last year’s $56,000 raised, PG&E employees helped firefighters and other volunteers on Wednesday (Sept. 5) to support Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Heroes & Helmets for Hope in downtown Bakersfield.
The annual event raises money for the Central California chapter of Make-A-Wish to help fulfill the wishes of critically-ill children. Last year, the chapter granted 107 wishes.
“A fundraiser of this magnitude wouldn’t be possible without PG&E’s help,” said Catherine Anspach, Kern County community director for Make-A-Wish.
Heroes & Helmets for Hope featured firefighters standing on street corners throughout the city with their helmets held out for donations. It also included PG&E employee volunteers serving barbecue lunches in a downtown parking lot across the street from KGET-TV 17, the headquarters for the event. PG&E volunteers also managed a steady trail of cars as people paid $7 for each meal, with money going toward Make-A-Wish.
A total of 18 PG&E volunteers – decked out in company blue T-shirts — took part in the event. This is the third year that PG&E employees have assisted. For the first time, PG&E also donated $2,500 to the local Make-A-Wish chapter.
Anspach runs a one-woman office for Make-A-Wish in Bakersfield. That makes volunteers essential for the organization to carry out its mission of helping children in Kern County, Anspach said.
For Kellie Richmond, planned outage coordinator for PG&E in Bakersfield, taking part in the annual fundraiser is very personal: Her daughter Jenna, now a healthy 12-year-old, was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 2. Make-A-Wish granted Jenna her wish of meeting actress and singer Miley Cyrus a few years ago, and the experience was featured in a story in the local newspaper.
“I’m a believer in paying it forward. I think that when you give, it comes back ten-fold. It’s really a blessing to be able to give,” said Richmond.
Jenna said granting children their wishes is important: “I think it makes them feel better. It makes them get their mind off of the bad things.”
PG&E employees also have supported Make-A-Wish in other locations. Last month, Diablo Canyon Power Plant employees raised $15,000 at their annual golf tournament for Make-A-Wish.
Email Tracy Correa at email@example.com.