By Samantha Bailey and Zena Taher
Six days a week, Santa Clarita Grocery opens its warehouse to people in need.
The charity has a variety of foods available to Santa Clarita residents who use its service. Fresh milk and eggs, vegetables, canned foods, cereal and baked goods are some of the items that can be found in the warehouse.
As guests arrive for pickup, the warm and fresh bagels that are dropped off at the grocery are some of the first items to quickly disappear from the shelves.
“Lance delivers on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Mondays, it’s before any of our guests arrive,” said Dan Zeigler, lead volunteer for distribution at SC Grocery. “On Wednesdays, our seniors are here. When they see him roll up, they want to take the full bags because they say these are the best bagels they’ve ever had.”
The fresh bagel deliveries started 11 months ago after the coronavirus pandemic hit. Zeigler and his daughter had a tradition of buying bagels from Bagel Boyz every Friday morning. Eventually, Zeigler began to get to know shop owner Lance Takao.
“We just started talking and I started asking, ‘Well, what do you do with the leftover bagels that you have?’” said Zeigler.
As it turned out, Takao had been donating bagels to a local church. However, when the pandemic began, the organization stopped accepting food donations.
Zeigler connected Takao to SC Grocery, and the bagel shop owner has been providing the organization with fresh bagels ever since.
“We get a lot of people asking for bagels. It’s one of our most popular items,” said Olivia Medrano, a volunteer at SC Grocery. “Sometimes the bread boxes can be a little bare, especially for families. It’s a lot of cookies and cakes. It’s really nice to have bagels, so that kind balances everything out.”
The bagels are not only loved by guests. Takao occasionally brings in bagels for the volunteers at SC Grocery as well.
“He has some of the best bagels in town,” said Zeigler. “He makes these dessert-type bagels, and when he has extras of those he puts them aside in a special box for us. Then all the volunteers get to have the dessert-type bagels that he makes.”
Although SC Grocery has offered to send somebody to pick up Takao’s bagels, the bakery owner goes out of his way to hand-deliver around 50 bags of bagels to the warehouse each week.
“You can tell it’s the end of the day and he’s exhausted, but he still does it,” said Zeigler.
Takao’s gesture in bringing freshly baked goods to SC Grocery does not go unnoticed.
“We celebrate people like that because they have to make their ends meet,” said Bradley Grose, the founder of SC Grocery. “They’re not a major corporation that can handle the ebbs and flows.”
As a Hawaii native, Takao is modest about his act of service for the community. He said it is human nature to want to help others when they need it.
“I feel like what comes around goes around,” said Takao. “If you help people, good things will happen to you.”
For members of the community, Takao’s reserved generosity is a reflection of his character.
“Lance is just a genuinely good person,” concluded Zeigler. “He has a servant heart and he just wants to make sure that he’s doing his part in the community.”
Takao could use some help from the community. He is currently looking for employees to work at the Bagel Boyz location in Canyon Country. Applications can be found here. For photos and updates, follow @BagelBoyzSCV on Instagram.
Those who would like to help SC Grocery can apply to become volunteers here.