Local aesthetician aims to help fire victims

Alex Galiotto collects goods in donation drive

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Alex Galiotto watches a donor drop off several bags of food as part of a fire donation drive she hosted at Salon218 in downtown Hollister. (Juan Reyes)

Alex Galiotto had a dream one night that she was helping dozens of victims who were drastically affected by the recent local wildfires.  

Sunday marked the second week in a row of her collecting everything from clothes to baby supplies during a fire donation drive at Salon218 in downtown Hollister. 

“I’m not religious but I am spiritual, I believe in God, and I felt like it was God telling me that I needed to do that,” she said. 

On Aug. 30, she collected items such as pillows, sleeping bags, water and canned goods that will be donated to victims of the River Fire in Monterey County. She said her goal is to spread out the donated goods within the Central Coast.   

Galiotto said she used to go on family camping trips to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, but California’s oldest state park will stay closed for at least a year after it was badly burned in the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire.

“It kind of has a special place in my heart,” she said. “I just felt like I wanted to help.”

Jo Cameron, owner of Salon Deja Vu Spa in Hollister, stopped by to drop off a load of pillows and sleeping bags. She said she wanted to support Galiotto in her efforts to help those affected by the wildfire. 

“The pandemic has been devastating for me personally in that I own a local salon and spa that has been closed for five months,” she said. “The fires take the loss to a new level.” 

Cameron said that she donated out of the abundance of what was given to her in her time of need. 

“I love our community, I love our state,” she said. “Giving back not only helps our neighbors but empowers me in dealing my own loss. It brings some peace and some healing.”

Brooke Shupe of Hollister on Aug. 27 posted on a San Benito County community social media page that she was thankful for the brave first responders who were fighting the SCU Lightning Complex Fire. 

“We have been on voluntary evacuation due to the SCU Lightning Complex Fire for the past eight days and live in Zone 6. [First responders] have worked tirelessly to keep all of us safe and I cannot thank them enough. We are not completely out of the woods yet and are still on voluntary evacuation but I feel safe knowing they are close by,” said Shupe on her post.

Shupe mentioned that she was starting a new challenge for her family and friends to donate to the first responders. She suggested buying them a meal, leaving a gift card at the front counter to be used for food or donating food to be delivered to their base camp.

“These brave men and women are continuously putting their lives on the line to keep us all safe and we should show them our appreciation,” she said. “Also, please extend a warm and loving thank you. They don’t hear it enough.”

Galiotto, who is an aesthetician at Salon218, said she has clients whose husbands work for either CalFire or they are firemen from a local station. She began with a Facebook post asking for items such as air mattresses, toiletries and pet supplies.

The Hollister native said she also has a little more than 800 people in the community who follow her Instagram account and she figured even if she got 100 of them to donate, that would be a huge help.

“I’m not doing it because it makes me feel good but it does make me feel good to know that I’m doing something to help,” Galiotto said.

Galiotto’s dream so far has turned into thousands of dollars worth of donations. Last week, she was given a $500 donation so she could purchase tents and sleeping bags, which were added to a pile of other goods that were dropped off at a warehouse on Walker Street in Watsonville. 

Now she said she’s been trying to inform people on how they can help and take the time to figure out what the victims still need.

“It was kind of just a one time thing but talking to the girl on Monday who runs [the warehouse], this is not something that’s going to be fixed with one donation,” Galiotto said.  

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