Every three days for the past two months, Ron Whitaker, a Santa Clarita resident and veteran drummer, drove to the mall.
He would look at the selection of items sitting in a bin at The Canyon Santa Clarita. And each time, he was shocked to see the volume of food — from ramen and peanut butter to peas and oatmeal cookies — that people had brought in, enough so it would be overflowing and prompt him sometimes to come multiple days in a row.
He would have to make multiple trips to the car to get it loaded up, and often had to bring separate boxes for all of the shampoo, body wash, razors, toothpaste and other toiletries that would go to places like the Salvation Army, too.
Whitaker has played with members of bands like Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot and Cherie Currie of The Runaways. But this is truly the stuff that can give him fulfillment. He wanted to give back, and he just did that with his new band, The Babys, to make charity in the community a more rock ’n’ roll feat by encouraging everyone to donate.
“It has been our lifelong passion to help others in need, like our veterans, the homeless, people with autism and so many other people,” he said. “A rock ’n’ roll food drive can only help these people.”
The box at the venue in the Westfield Valencia Town Center sat at The Canyon Santa Clarita for two months, an idea brainstormed by Whitaker and his fiance, Rodica Isabella Shaldan, to inspire concert-goers to donate canned foods.
The two originally planned for the fundraiser to be only two months, December and January. Now it will go longer, Whitaker said, and hopefully be extended into a year-round endeavor.
“I want to challenge local businesses, everyday people, everyone to donate to charity,” he said. “We want to challenge everyone to think of giving as something to do all the time, not just some of the time when it is cold outside.”
In between working on movies, such as the upcoming titles “In 3 Dragon” and “The Limo Driver,” the pair enjoys playing music and looks forward to other bands joining and raising awareness with each concert.
Whitaker hopes to soon team up with The Canyon and other music venues to put on a star-studded concert in Los Angeles to help with homeless charity events, too, bringing the proceeds also to local Santa Clarita nonprofits.
“Let’s make this a great place for all of our community,” he said. “Whatever we can do for the homeless, the needy, the veterans, let’s do it.”