Arwinder Singh Chahal and his family didn’t plan to cook and serve more than 600 meals to the homeless and to those working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, but when the opportunity arose, he and his family took advantage of it.
“We don’t plan anything,” said Chahal, who goes by the first name Ravi. “But when we see a need, we just jump into it.”
He added, “This is a difficult time we’re all going through. I just like to help out.”
A resident of Santa Maria, Chahal owns 7-Eleven stores in Orcutt, Arroyo Grande and Santa Barbara through which he and his family have supported the communities where his stores are located.
They cooked and served meals to the homeless at the Salvation Army shelter in Santa Maria four times last year and once in January.
They held a back-to-school event that provided free coffee to teachers in appreciation of their work educating students, provided students with backpacks filled with school supplies, provided balls for school playgrounds and supported the Santa Maria High School pumpkin patch.
But when COVID-19 became a threat to Santa Barbara County residents, Chahal and his family looked at the needs and found a way to fill them.
When surgical masks and gloves became scarce, Chahal had more than he needed among those he received from 7-Eleven for use in his stores, so he donated 150 face masks and 2,000 gloves to Marian Regional Medical Center.
“We do donations and give back to the community because selfless service is one of the fundamental principles of Sikhism, the faith we follow, and we also believe that Marian hospital also serves the community by standing on the front line in this very difficult time and we appreciate it very much,” Chahal said.
To say thank you, he and wife Harpreet Kaur Chahal, 7-year-old daughter Harmehar, 6-year-old son Harnihal and mother Surinder Kaur cooked up and served about 129 meals to the front-line workers at Marian.
Chahal said the vegetarian meals consisted of an Indian dish of garbanzo beans called chana masala, rice, pasta and salad.
They also served up meals to personnel at the Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande police departments, Five Cities Fire Authority and the County Sheriff’s Office substation in Santa Maria.
More meals were cooked and served to the homeless in the shelter set up at Santa Maria High School and in a separate event just for the volunteers who work at the shelter.
Chahal feels the help he and his family have been providing isn’t coming just from them.
“I’d like to say thank you to all the customers who shop with us and support us every day,” he said. “It’s like getting a big donation from the community. This is all of them. This is not just me doing it.”
He also said he hopes what he and his family are doing will inspire others.
“Wherever you are, just try to help out,” he said. “Anybody can do these things … as small or as big as you like. You can start with doing five meals. … It helps keep you busy, makes you feel good and you are helping others who really need it.”
043020 Ravi Chahal 02.jpg
043020 Ravi Chahal 03.jpg
Chahals deliver to Marian
Chahals at Salvation Army
043020 Ravi Chahal 04.jpg
043020 Ravi Chahal 05.jpg
043020 Ravi Chahal 01.jpg
Chahal family donation to Marian
Chahal family donation to Marian
Chahal family donation to Salvation Army
Chahal family donation to area schools
032620 Hanock Mendiola 02.jpg
032620 Hanock Little 01.jpg
051520 SY Allen and Rocha sign 01.jpg
051320 Parker Reynolds swims 01.jpg
051320 Parker Reynolds swims 02.jpg
051420 William Libbon School 01.jpg
051320 Peasants Feast 01.jpg
Joke of the day table
051320 Buellton stroll 01.jpg
051320 Marian flyover 01.jpg
051220 Coronavirus masks 01.jpg
051220 Penitentiary support .jpg
051220 Surf Connection reopens 01.jpg
051120 SMHS gowns 01.jpg
051120 SMHS gowns 03.jpg
051120 Mission Hope convoy 01.jpg
051120 Mission Hope convoy 02.jpg
050820 Righetti softball seniors 02.jpg
050820 Jacob West 01.jpg
050820 Jacob West 04.jpg
050820 Righetti celebration 05.jpg
050820 Righetti celebration 01.jpg
050820 Righetti celebration 02.jpg
050820 Righetti celebration 03.jpg
Santa Maria economic impacts
050820 Lompoc coronavirus testing 01.jpg
050820 Lompoc coronavirus testing 02.jpg
050720 U-Pick Blueberries 03.jpg
050620 Manzanita parade 01.jpg
050620 Manzanita parade 02.jpg
050620 Coronavirus Solvang masks .jpg
050620 Coronavirus Solvang store.jpg
050620 SM economy 01.jpg
050620 SM economy 02.jpg
050620 Skate park mulched 01.jpg
050520 Orcutt Academy celebration 01.jpg
050520 Orcutt Academy celebration 02.jpg
050520 Fairpark COVID-19 testing begins 03.jpg
050520 Koh's curbside delivery
050420 Fairpark COVID-19 testing preparation 01.jpg
050420 Fairpark COVID-19 testing preparation 02.jpg
043020 Community Craft winery 01.jpg
043020 Community Craft winery 02.jpg
043020 Community Craft winery 03.jpg
050120 SMHS college signing 01.jpg
050120 SMHS college signing 02.jpg
050120 May Day Caravan 01
050120 Lompoc class 2020 honored 04.jpg
050120 Lompoc class 2020 honored 03.jpg
050120 Open SYV rally 03.jpg
050120 Open SYV rally 01.jpg
050120 Open SYV rally 02.jpg
043020 Pismo Beach 02.jpg
043020 Pismo Beach 01.jpg
042929 Funeral restrictions 01.jpg
042929 Funeral restrictions 02.jpg
042929 Marian blood drive 02.jpg
042929 Marian blood drive 01.jpg
042820 Nipomo drive through 01.jpg
042820 Nipomo drive through 02.jpg
042820 Nipomo drive through 03.jpg
042820 PV gown drive through 01.jpg
042820 PV gown drive through 02.jpg
042820 PV gown drive through 03.jpg
042820 Foodbank produce bags 02.jpg
042820 Foodbank produce bags 03.jpg
042820 Foodbank produce bags 01.jpg
042720 Ballard coronavirus hearts 01.jpg
042720 Ballard coronavirus hearts 02.jpg
042520 Penitentiary protest 01.jpg
042520 Penitentiary protest 02.jpg
The series “Our neighbors: Living through a pandemic” is a collection of short vignettes highlighting the struggle and the hope of residents quarantined on the Central Coast. Through their stories it becomes clear that we really are facing the coronavirus together.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.