More than 10,000 attend tamal festival

Local nonprofit raises funds for youth

Sweet or savory, meat or veggie—more than 10,000 people lined up for tamales at the fifth annual Gilroy Tamal Festival in downtown Gilroy on Sunday, Oct. 7.

The event is run by Community Agency for Resources, Advocacy, and Services (CARAS), a south Santa Clara County nonprofit group providing advocacy services to at risk youth and their families.

“Our purpose for organizing the festival is to bridge gaps between the Latino community and non Latinos in South County,” said CARAS program director Reymundo Armendariz. “We believe cultural events are a good way to dispel prejudice and discrimination through cultural awareness and appreciation.”

CARAS board member, Rebeca Armendariz said the funds raised, usually less than $5,000, go toward its youth programs with a focus on themes like decision making and gang intervention.

“The funds will go toward the materials and the stipends for participating in those programs,” Rebeca said.

In addition to helping youth who are gang-impacted or at high risk for getting involved in criminal activity, Rebeca said, the program offers families assistance navigating different systems including legal, health care and schools.

“We help them to learn about their rights in all of these different settings and serve as a voice for the voiceless—teaching folks how to advocate for themselves,” she said.

CARAS plans to host a Day of the Dead fundraiser on Nov. 3, with funds going toward the restoration of the Aztec calendar mural on Old Gilroy street.

For information about CARAS and its Dia de los Muertos fundraiser, call 408.847.4978.

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