American Sikhs to keep the homeless warm

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American Sikhs to keep the homeless warm Dec 23, 2008

Sewadars distributing clothes to local community

Sikh in America stood shoulder to shoulder with the members of the community less well of then themselves.

Nearly 200 of the area's underprivileged are a little warmer today thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Clamouring for coats, coffee and cake, many from Modesto's homeless community came together Sunday evening in Graceada Park at an event organised by several women from local agencies that offer health services to the needy.

Struggling community members also found pants, socks and gloves, as well as toiletries and other goods to stay clean and warm.

Mike Sandhau — owner of Sandhau Brothers Farm, which has 15,000 acres in rural Tracy was there

He said he, some family and friends decided to pool some money to help local poor folks in honor of a 500-year-old Sikh tradition.

Mike said that this allows the community to remember the sacrifices made by the Sahibzada’s, the two youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh.

Both the youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were bricked alive in December 1704; they had to remain in freezing conditions with only the warmth of their grandmother to keep them warm.

“So we do this to keep other children, other families, warm in their honor,” he said. “It’s just something my family has done here for about six years now.”

Anyone is welcome to pick up the free clothing, he said. But the hope is that only people who need this assistance will take the clothing.

Garcia has been homeless for two years. He picked up a jacket and gloves at Sunday's event. Especially for those who don't qualify for programs like his or can't find space in the Gospel Mission, he said, the giveaway would make a big difference as temperatures plunge.

It was the third such event, said organizer Katherine Jones, 56, of Modesto, who works with the homeless at Corner of Hope, at the Golden Valley Health Center. Jones and co-worker Marlene Perez worked with Kim Hamilton, of Stanislaus County's Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, to organize the event.

Jones said the event also is a memorial for homeless people who have died.

"They shouldn't be forgotten," she said. "We see so many of these people on a daily basis at Corner of Hope. They're human and they need to be recognized and respected, even if they've taken some wrong turns in life."

For many who died, Jones said, it's their only memorial service. Participants lit candles, read the names of the dead and observed a moment of silence between musical performances by several local groups.

Several Sikh families stood on a picnic table passing out free new coats, each wrapped in plastic, which they brought to the park in trucks donated by B&B Trucking of Modesto.

Health educator Perez, of Corner of Hope, said some people had been concerned that, with the slumping economy, it would be difficult to pull off Sunday's giveaway.

"But, in spite of the rain, in spite of the bad weather, we're all here," said Perez of Patterson, who turned 49 on Sunday. She brought her children and husband to celebrate her birthday by volunteering at the event.

"I want to be an example," she said. "This is the way I'm giving back."


More news

Martyrdom of the choota sahibzada

Sikhs donate clothing in memory of the Sahibzada’s Dec 19, 2008

Sikh families will give away $50,000 worth of coats, gloves and socks to the needy beginning Saturday at the Larch-Clover Community Center.

After that they’ll hold a few giveaways in Stockton, Modesto and a few Bay Area cities.

Mike Sandhau — owner of Sandhau Brothers Farm, which has 15,000 acres in rural Tracy, is leading on the initiative

He said he, some family and friends decided to pool some money to help local poor folks in honor of a 500-year-old Sikh tradition.

Mike said that this allows the community to remember the sacrifices made by the Sahibzada’s, the two youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh.

Both the youngest sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were bricked alive in December 1704; they had to remain in freezing conditions with only the warmth of their grandmother to keep them warm.

“So we do this to keep other children, other families, warm in their honor,” he said. “It’s just something my family has done here for about six years now.”

Anyone is welcome to pick up the free clothing, he said. But the hope is that only people who need the help will show up.

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