Sikh Center of SA creates continuous operation to help Harvey victims

Center volunteers take supplies to coastal cities, Houston

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

It's a part of their culture and religion to spread love, so just days after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas the Sikh Center of San Antonio jumped into action.

The volunteers are adopting communities that are now living in unbearable conditions. From the tiniest to the strongest, every member of the local Sikh Center is working day and night. 

"At the time, a lot of my friends were caught up in the storm," center member Mandeep Singh said.

Singh lived in Houston for 30 years before moving to San Antonio. Four days after Harvey hit, he took them supplies and support. 

"It was surreal. You see a place that you've grown up. Now that they're (under) 7 or 8 feet of water," Singh said. 

Donations began pouring in from Sikh centers from all over the nation many to Houston, so San Antonio could focus on coastal communities.

"We're getting trucks from California, the East Coast, Canada, Seattle," Singh said. 

The local Sikh volunteers have been to Rockport, Port Arthur, Crosby, Bellville and Beaumont, and they found grateful people in every city. 

"It crossed race, religion. It was just neighbor helping neighbor; Texans helping Texans," Singh said. 

It was a memorable feeling for Singh, whose community is often misunderstood and even targeted with hate or bigotry.

"If some other people had gotten us misrepresented, or they thought other things about us that weren't accurate, this is a chance for us to show the world who we really are," he said.

The momentum of their mission is building and they're hoping for help. 

They're asking people not to donate any more clothing since they have so much. The items they need the most are things such as baby diapers, adult diapers, women's sanitary pads and wipes. 

The members are identifying the communities most in need and adopting those neighborhoods for the foreseeable future. 

In the Sikh religion, the word "seva" means more than service. It's an act of love. Everyone knows the world can use seva by the truckload. 

"When you see that, you know there's good in humanity," Singh said. 

The effort is growing and the members plan to keep it going as long as possible. Anyone can donate to the center on its Facebook page or email info@sikhcenter.org to get more information on drop off locations. 

The center is also holding the Texas Strong 5K, Run to Rebuild. It's on Nov. 5 at 8 a.m. at the San Antonio Zoo parking lot. Early bird tickets are $35 and $40 after Oct. 22. To buy tickets and see more information, head to the Facebook page or just search on Facebook for "Sikh Center of San Antonio." 

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