Student helps homeless stay warm this winter with clothing drive

Ms. Becky Yakimow teaches Kimberly Balch in her leadership class. Her students were directed to identify a problem in their community and adress it with a service project. Balch choose to do a clothing drive for the Way Station.

YUCCA VALLEY —Becky Yakimow, a teacher at La Contenta Middle School, asks her students every year to identify a problem in their community and then create a service project to address it. One eighth-grade student, Kimberly Balch, said homelessness was a big problem in Joshua Tree, specifically over winter when temperatures drop below freezing. 

To help with the problem, Kimberly organized a winter warmth drive.

“Last year for this project I did a cereal drive for the Way Station but they told me that another problem they saw a lot was people being cold throughout the wintertime,” she said.

She worked with the staff at La Contenta, her family and the Way Station, a religious nonprofit organization in Joshua Tree, to collect blankets, coats, hats and more. Kimberly set up one donation station at the Yucca Valley Community Center and another at La Contenta Middle School.

She collected 38 coats, 118 socks, 16 blankets and other items to keep people without homes warm in the winter.

Steve Cook, founding director of the Way Station, met Kimberly at La Contenta Middle School on Tuesday afternoon to collect the winter gear and thank her.

“This will be very helpful,” Cook said. “We have people come in all the time over the winter just looking for help getting warm.”

Cook said the cold-weather gear will be included in the Way Station’s annual Thanksgiving giveaway on Nov. 26.

On Tuesday, the Way Station will give away turkeys and food to make Thanksgiving side dishes to hundreds of families in need. The winter weather gear will be set up on a table on the way into the giveaway and a volunteer will be manning the booth to provide few items to those in need, Cook said.

The Way Station will open its doors at 8 a.m. and close registration at 10 a.m. Come early to make sure that you reserve your turkey.

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