Teraji: A town’s caring spirit for the less-fortunate


The truly great thing about our community is the caring spirit for those less fortunate that goes beyond what I have experienced in any other community in which I have lived. This time of year, everyone is gearing up for the cold winter months ahead and working to make them more bearable for those living on low incomes. The Compassion Center, St. Joseph’s Family Center, the Salvation Army, and the temporary winter shelter for the homeless at the National Guard Armory are all in full swing in preparation for the upcoming winter months. Our caring community inspires even those who live beyond our borders to reach out and donate.     

Last year, Alice Bechard (who turns 80 this month) crocheted warm hats with great care and helped distribute them to the homeless in Las Animas Park during “drive-by giving,” at which Christmas care packages were given out to the homeless on Christmas Eve. Alice doesn’t live in Gilroy but her daughter’s family did in the past, and so they both came down to continue the tradition of helping those less fortunate in the generous spirit of Gilroy.

This year, Gilroy United Methodist Church is collaborating with Univision Radio, Pacheco Pass Self-Storage, the International Order of the Odd Fellows, and other local groups to get ready for an upcoming outreach effort to help migrant families in December. Alice’s hats will be part of that effort. Toys, blankets and warm jackets are also being collected for the families.

One of the things I love about Gilroy is the way we retain such a great appreciation for handmade goods. Even though we are known for our outlet shopping, we are also known for our holiday handcrafted items. This year, Nov. 17 (the Saturday before Thanksgiving), is the date set for the longest continuously running holiday event of its kind in Gilroy: this is the 79th year for the Annual Holiday Bazaar.

Currently organized by Barbara Gailey (a retired Glen View teacher who continues to volunteer at the school) and the United Methodist women, the Bazaar has become a local institution, featuring a showcase of artistic needlework, culinary delights, and an array of whimsical crafts.

The hand-crafted items are sold by the United Methodist Women to benefit homeless and low income children and families of Gilroy. Alice went through her cedar chest and pulled out three big boxes worth of hand-crafted items to donate to the upcoming Bazaar, such as quilts, cloth angels, Christmas ornaments, aprons, neck scarves, tree skirts, and tea cozies.

This past Saturday, Gilroy High Choral instructor Phil Robb, as well as a number of other Gilroy residents, including some of the women who are putting on the Bazaar, traveled to San Jose State University to hear the senior recital of Gilroy High alumni Victoria Arribere, who sang 12 songs for her degree in Music Education. Victoria is Alice Bechard’s granddaughter, and so the Gilroyans who went to hear Victoria had the chance to meet Alice for the first time and thank her in person for her generous donations. Arribere grew up helping the homeless in Gilroy with her mom and carries on that tradition wherever she goes.

Alice just finished crocheting 122 hats, which she donated to the homeless and low income where she lives in Turlock. Hearing about Gilroy’s upcoming bazaar and outreach efforts to low income families, she is now making a new batch of hats; she is up to 40 and plans to make more. She is using yarn donated to her.

Many folks stop by for the soup luncheon (homemade soup, sliced bread, dessert and a drink) starting at 11:30.  Soups such as homemade chowder, white bean, French onion, vegetarian, and Butternut squash are local favorites. Young girls from the community waitress (often their first experience) at the luncheon.

Since 1933, the local community has come together to quilt, sew, embroider, decorate, cook, bake, can, pickle, pot, mix, fudge, bottle, preserve, paint, macramé, knit, glue, crochet, chutney, and just jam in general — and all for a good cause.  


When: Saturday, Nov. 17
Where: Gilroy United Methodist Church, 7600 Church Street, corner of Fourth and Church Streets
What time: From 8:30 a.m. until people stop coming
Soup luncheon: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There will be a drawing for the opportunity to win a beautiful quilt made by local quilter Marilyn Schlesinger; you need not be present to win.
For more information, call (408) 842-3034 or (408) 607-2442.

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