Jeff Garcia scores with fundraiser for Community Solutions

Jeff Garcia takes time to snap a photo with member of the Gilroy

MORGAN HILL – Friends, family and those eager to donate to a
worthy cause, joined Gilroy’s own NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia for
some good old fashioned bowling fun, while keeping the true meaning
of the evening close to heart, as he hosted his third annual
charity event Friday, in conjunction with his Pass It On
Foundation.
MORGAN HILL – Friends, family and those eager to donate to a worthy cause, joined Gilroy’s own NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia for some good old fashioned bowling fun, while keeping the true meaning of the evening close to heart, as he hosted his third annual charity event Friday, in conjunction with his Pass It On Foundation.

The beneficiary of the evening’s proceeds was Morgan Hill-based nonprofit organization Community Solutions and its Solutions to Violence chapter, which provides care for those affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

“I understand with the economy the way it is, and asking people to open up their wallets and give, is not really an easy thing to do right now,” Garcia said. “But thanks to Jennie (Brunt), who heads up the foundation, and my dad and his major push the last few weeks, we were able to get it to where it could really be a positive event.

“It is an important program in South County,” Garcia added. “I felt it was important to reach out to somebody who can use our help. Any time I can get back and be a part of the community is a positive thing. Every little bit helps.”

Collected from entry fees, a silent auction that included signed memorabilia, a round of golf for four at Eagle Ridge in Gilroy, San Francisco Giants tickets and more, plus a live auction conducted by Garcia, $20,000 was raised for Community Solutions.

“As the economy has gone down, the donations have been hard to come by,” said Community Solutions president and CEO, Erin O’Brien. “We appreciate that (Jeff Garcia) believes in what we do. It makes us feel special.”

Twenty-two teams, combined with those just wanting to hang out and have a good time, accounted for about 175 patrons crammed into Morgan Hill Bowl, and Garcia, a willingly gracious host, made it a point to meet and greet all of them. He meandered through the crowds selling raffle tickets, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans of all ages.

“I can’t believe there are so many people here,” one guest, who came from Palo Alto, proclaimed as he found his lane.

Seven-year-old Stevie Chuck of San Jose had a night he won’t soon forget. Not only did he get to shake hands and have his picture snapped with an All-Pro NFL quarterback, he also torched the lanes with some quality bowling skills.

“I’ve never met a professional football player before,” the gleaming Chuck said, sporting a No. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey.

Though initially hesitant to give her last name, Tamara Chukes’ voice was loud and clear when it came to discussing the importance of raising awareness about domestic violence.

Chukes, who was once the victim in a violent relationship, turned to Community Solutions where she made use of the battered women’s shelter, was provided transportation and even received assistance with court papers, the 31-year-old said.

“A lot of people don’t realize how prevalent domestic violence is,” she said. “It can affect anybody. It can’t just be swept under the rug. Women have to know that there is help out there for them. For someone of his stature to bring awareness to this situation is amazing.”

Chukes shares her experience at various speaking engagements, and recently spoke at an United Way breakfast.

Former San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback and four-time Super Bowl champion Eric Wright, as well as current Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Bruce Gradkowski came as Garcia’s guests.

With Garcia in town to also celebrate his 40th birthday, many of his relatives lent their support to the cause. His parents, Bob and Linda, along with his sisters, his wife Carmella and their two young children and a host of cousins added to the uplifting spirit.

“There are very strong ties to the community here and they go back a lot of years,” Garcia said. “So in that way, the loyalty is there and they want to always be a part of the community in some way or give back in some way. And I do it because of (my family) in a lot of ways for what it means to them when I do something positive for this community.”

The night’s best individual bowler was Dave Ellis, while the C. Garcia Transportation group of Cep Garcia, Ramiro Canta, John Ceballos, Jess Sanchez, Rocky Vasquez and Jorge Alvarez garnered the top team honors.

More information about Community Solutions can be found on its Web site, www.communitysolutions.org. Donations can also be made toward Garcia’s Pass It On Foundation at www.garciapassiton.com.

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