Jeremiah Rodriguez, 4, from Gilroy, enjoys a spray of water from Christopher High School football volunteers Moses Talamante and Brian Macias as they try to sell misters from their booth on the ranch side of Christmas Hill Park during the first day of the

GILROY—The Gilroy Garlic Festival provides a wealth of entertainment for its attendees, but behind the scenes it serves a much bigger purpose.
The festival’s 4,000 volunteers spend the weekend logging long hours to help raise money for their respective programs. For some, such as the Gilroy High cross country team, the Garlic Festival is vital.
The garlic gathering is the team’s lone fundraiser and the money it earns goes towards covering the cost of shoes, meet fees, transportation and t-shirts, among other essentials for the impending season.
“It’s a great event, we’ve been doing it for years,” junior runner Eric Heiser said. “It’s really nice to be a part of Gilroy and see all these people out here. We’re trying to help out our program and the (coaches Art and Cathy Silva) are great. They do all this stuff (for us) and it’s just nice to be able to help them out whenever we can.”
The Mustangs, most of who worked full day shifts over three-day festival, huddled together in a tent in the scorching 90-plus degree temperatures to churn out loaf after loaf of garlic bread. Though the conditions made things uncomfortable, the team said it was making the best of its situation and used the event as a bonding experience.
“I love how the community just comes out and bonds…You just help each other. I actually didn’t know her (before the festival),” said first-time volunteer Celeste Islas while hugging teammate Jessica Gonzalez.
The Mustangs cross country team were just one of several local sports programs that volunteered at this year’s Garlic Festival. Members of the Christopher High football team helped attendees beat the heat by selling spray misters and the Gilroy High and Gilroy Hawks wrestlers hauled garbage from around the festival grounds. The Gavilan College football team sold margaritas on the park side and the Gilroy Gators swim team manned a Pepsi soft drinks booth—just to name a few.
And all were doing so to earn a slice of Gilroy’s biggest community fundraiser.
“It’s just fun to be here and you’re around people you’re in the same sport with and you love the same thing,” said Mustang runner Gonzalez. “You’re helping each out and it’s going to benefit all of us.”

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