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Westside Ministries 30th annual Coats for Kids collection
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Lydio Banana, director of programming at Westside Ministries, asks for community support in efforts to collect coats for kids throughout the Turlock area. - photo by NATALIE WINTERS/The Journal

Westside Ministries does not just preach the gospel through the Word, but with their actions as well. For 30 years they have been doing a Coats for Kids drive that allows underprivileged children in the area to receive a coat, haircut, Christmas gift and warm meal.

“It really brings the community together and the kids are so grateful for the support,” said Lydio Banana, director of programming for Westside Ministries. “It really boosts their moral knowing that not just Westside Ministries, but other organizations and people are behind them as well.”

Carr’s Cleaners is the location drop-off for used coats as they clean the jackets and bring them back to Westside Ministries—the location for new coats.

“We serve around 2,000 coats a year and are always scrambling to find them, especially sizes for the toddler age,” said Banana.  “The community support and donations make such a difference.”

Monetary donations and volunteer time are appreciated, as well.

“Pitman and Turlock High School require that seniors volunteer for X amount of hours and this is a great opportunity for them to fill those hours,” said Banana. “But we’re also in need of haircutters. That’s usually one of our biggest needs.”

Banana added that a monetary donation anywhere from three to five dollars provides a child with a new coat.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to find a place that offers them at such a low price,” he said.

“I see myself in these kids,” said Banana. “As I was growing up I was an underprivileged child from a broken home… I see myself in all of these kids, I hear their internal cry, I relate with them... this is my way to give back and it’s such a great cause.”

Coats are distributed through Westside Ministries from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18 by teacher referral and monetary donations for the purchase of coats can be mailed to WSM P.O. Box 354, Turlock.