For 13 years, Tracy farmer and businessman Mike Sandhu has conducted a free coat distribution at the community center, 11157 W. Larch Road, just north of city limits.
Sandhu began the annual giveaway when he moved from Fremont to Tracy and started by handing out free blankets for the winter.
The next year, he handed out coats, along with socks, gloves and hats for the winter.
This year, the giveaway is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sandhu expects to distribute 3,500 coats that Saturday. There is no income requirement for receiving a coat.
“Anyone who needs, whoever feels like they need a coat — there are a lot of people hurting,” Sandhu said. “We just want to help them.”
As a faithful Sikh, Sandhu gives 10 percent of his income to the needy.
He also organizes coat drives in Stockton, Modesto and Turlock.
“Sikhs are required to serve the community they live in,” he said.
The coat distribution hit a temporary snag when Erte’ T. Boyette, director of the Larch Clover Community Center, told Sandhu that anyone receiving a coat must sign for it — a requirement with which Sandhu did not agree.
Sandhu said Boyette told him the requirement was meant to be a way to track the number of people who are helped at the community center.
Boyette said he talked to his supervisor and the requirement was dropped, so the distribution could go ahead as originally planned.
Sandhu said he was “glad it worked out,” because he wanted to keep the distribution at the community center, where people are accustomed to the coat drive being held.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.