Larch Clover Community Center is never as popular as it is in early November, when Sandhu Bros. Farm gives away $65,000 worth of new winter coats, socks, gloves and cool-weather outfits.
A line formed outside the north Tracy center’s door at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday as the morning chill provided a crisp reminder that the Valley’s Indian summer has passed.
After a 1½-hour wait, Christina Tova directed her five children through the line to choose jackets and other winter clothes. Joshua Tova, 4, picked out a blue shirt, jeans and a new jacket out of stacks of bagged clothes.
“To buy five jackets for five kids — that’s, like, $100,” Tova said. “And they keep growing out of them.”
Sikh families around the globe sponsor similar coat giveaways each fall, said Karnail Singh Sandhu, 42, one of the event’s organizers. Their traditions say that 300 years ago, two young Sikh children were kept in a cold room until they would accept Islam as their religion. In the end, they were killed when they refused to convert.
“We’re doing this in memory of them,” said Sandhu, who moved from India to California 25 years ago with his father to start Sandhu Bros. Farm, part of which is in south Tracy.
The local giveaway started four years ago when Sandhu and his family and friends handed out about 2,500 blankets at the community center. Since then, the group has seen more people line up each fall. Last year, between 400 and 500 people received coats.
“A lot of people here don’t have a place to live,” said 52-year-old Don Goppert, a volunteer at the community center. “The cold weather is coming up. There’s definitely a need.”
Leftover coats will go to families in Stockton, Turlock and Modesto.