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In Beckys honor
Local ministry provides winter coats for area kids
The “Coats 4 Kids” campaign began in honor of Becky Valencia, who died of meningitis in 1990. - photo by Photo Contributed
Westside Ministries founder and director JoLynn DiGrazia will never forget the winter 20 years ago when she asked 11-year-old Becky Valencia, “Where’s your coat?”
Valencia, who attended Westside Ministries’ Bible Club for kids, told DiGrazia that she didn’t have one. Soon after, Valencia died of meningitis.
“She was playing out with friends on the street and literally fell over with it,” DiGrazia said. “She was taken to the hospital and never recovered.”
The following winter DiGrazia started collecting coats for the kids of the Westside who did not have one in Valencia’s honor. Westside Ministries’ annual “Coats 4 Kids” campaign now provides approximately 1,000 kids with a much-needed winter coat, a new toy, a free haircut and a hot meal every December.
“When we started this ministry, no one else was doing it so there was a great need,” DiGrazia said.
Westside Ministries is in need of new or gently used coats for this year’s event. Used coats and jackets can be dropped off at Carr’s Cleaners on Main Street or Geer Road. New coats and jackets or monetary donations to purchase new coats can be dropped off at Westside Ministries, 950 Columbia St., Turlock. Donations are needed before Dec. 11.
Children in need of coats are referred to Westside Ministries through the schools. Families who have children in need of coats can also contact Westside Ministries at 667-8593.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.