After three months of trauma, grief, vigils, fundraisers, healing, memorials and, for many, continuing pain, let’s take some time for some gratitude.

As the #Gilroy Strong banner disappeared from downtown Gilroy and the memorial flowers at Christmas Hill Park faded and withered, hundreds of businesses and thousands of individuals continued to reach out—joining hands in some cases—to the victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting.

As we reported last week, and with more details in this issue, the depth and breadth of the outpouring of generosity was staggering: more than $1.7 million in gifts to the Gilroy Garlic Festival Victims Relief Fund. Another $541,000 has been donated to several approved GoFundMe accounts.

The victims’ fund recognized that the list of victims of the July 28 shooting is larger than the number unfortunate enough to have been struck by the gunman’s bullets: 59 people received some aid for injuries and trauma who had no gunshot wounds. And for hundreds more, the frightening sights and sounds of that summer evening are etched in their memories.

Individuals and businesses in Hollister followed the lead of the Community Foundation of San Benito County with donations to the Gilroy Foundation’s fund. 

Foundations, non-profits, businesses and individuals from California and across the U.S. reached in their pockets and opened their hearts in the wake of the Garlic City’s tragedy. Combining GoFundMe and victims’ fund totals, individual citizens from across the U.S. and abroad have donated more than $1.2 million to victims.

The gifts were given without any expectation of recognition, in the purest form of giving, with no expectation of a “thank you.”

It’s a good time to do just that: Thank you.

Thank you, not just for the fact of the gifts, and for the conscientious and caring way our local foundation has worked to track and disburse the funds, but also for the sense of community demonstrated by the gift-giving.

Also this month, first responders working at the Garlic Festival on the day of the shooting were honored in separate ceremonies. A community barbecue at St. Louise Regional Hospital thanked firefighters, police officers and medical staff for their life-saving work. Earlier an awards ceremony in Southern California recognized the bravery of private security guards, led by Paul Gutierrez of Hollister, who aided shooting victims at the Garlic Festival.

Quietly, organically and without delay, local communities demonstrated by their selflessness and their gift-giving that humanity and compassion have the capacity to build bridges, join hands, make alliances, find common ground and share a common sense of purpose: to come to the aid of victims of unspeakable violence.

If we build on that, the real legacy of this outpouring of assistance could be realized: Finding common ground may be attainable neighbor-to-neighbor, city-to-city, to tackle the challenges that lie ahead of us.

Next time you visit Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, remember that while pain and scars linger, communities have the capacity to comfort and heal. We must never forget the July 28 victims, and likewise always remember the way neighboring communities responded to their need.

Applications for aid will still be accepted by the victims’ fund through January 2020, and the Gilroy Foundation accepts designated contributions to the fund and for its ongoing work supporting charities and scholarships on a year-round basis. For more information, visit

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