Singer-rapper Zacari back in his hometown Saturday for free show at MLK Park coat giveaway

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Bakersfield podcast host who was cold growing up more times than he can remember will be doing what he can to help keep others warm this Saturday, and he has enlisted the help of a rising local star on the national music scene.

Zylo Hefferan grew up poor and, legally speaking, homeless. Most every important adult in his life either died or was imprisoned, and the South High School grad relied on the goodness of others to get by. Now, he says, it’s his turn.

Hefferan, host of the “Contrast and Uncut” podcast, has organized a coat giveaway at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in east Bakersfield — because, he says, that’s what people do when they emerge on the other side of a great challenge. He’s calling the coat drive Keeping the Streets Warm.

“If we can be reminded of simple things as pleasant as ‘be a good human’ and ‘love others,’ and put peace and hope in your daily forecast, from there we can continue to grow and help each other,” Hefferan said. “And that’s what we’ve got to get the message back across.”

Hefferan recruited his new friend, prominent singer-rapper-songwriter Zacari — a Ridgeview High grad — to perform. Zacari, whose growing list of credits include two songs on the soundtrack album of the film “Black Panther,” never really left Bakersfield, at least not in spirit.

“It is for my city, man,” said the singer, whose full name is Zacari Pacaldo. “Anything for my city. This city raised me, man, I grew up on the streets of Bakersfield.”

The men met at a recording studio in North Hollywood as Hefferan was essentially being escorted from the building.

“And as I’m walking down the hall, I noticed Zacari was walking in front of me” from studio to another,” Hefferan said. “And I said ‘Bakersfield!’ in passing. And he stopped and threw his hands up.”

Zacari takes the story from there: “I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ and that was our interaction.

“And then I get a (direct message from Hefferan via social media) later, like, ‘Yo, we’re doing this event. Do you want to be a part of it?’ I’m instantly, like, ‘Yes!,’ and then he’s like, ‘Oh, and I was the guy who said, “Bakersfield” in the hallway.’ And I was, like, “Of course you are.’”

“Five months later and here we are,’ said Heffernan, “where he’s doing a free show for the hometown.”

The singer — who won a talent contest sponsored by KGET when he was 8 — — says he’s always up for a good cause when it comes to his hometown.

“I understand how hard life is, and I can’t judge any of these people,” he said. “And if I can help them, I am more than happy to.”

Hefferan says the coat drive is something he’d like to continue as an annual event.

“I’ll do this event next year, and we’ll come back around hopefully with a little bit more attention to what we’re doing,” he said, “so we can raise some more money, and have more people and more jackets and blankets and items to keep them warm during the winter.”

Zylo Hefferan can’t count the number of times he’s slept in his car. Today, with a home, a family and a purpose, he hopes those days are over. But he knows this Christmas season will be a cold one for a lot of people in Bakersfield.

And he’s here to help.

The coat giveaway is Saturday at MLK Park from 11 a-m to 2 p-m. It’ll have music, dental exams from Smile Makers, food baskets, toiletries, masks and lunches from Subway — all free. It’s too late to donate used coats, which need to be sanitized, but not too late to donate new coats — at the event.

If you’d like information on how you can help some other way, you can email Hefferan at z.heff7@gmail.com.

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