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In less than one year, the Gilroy Foundation raised $1,934,472.51 for victims of the 2019 Garlic Festival shooting.

“Every penny went to the victims of the tragedy,” said Donna Pray, executive director of the Gilroy Foundation.

The funds were dispersed in the form of grants directly to 22 shooting victims and 98 people who suffered financial hardship as a result of the July 28, 2019 mass shooting at Christmas Hill Park, Pray said.

The shooting at last year’s festival—Gilroy’s signature annual event—resulted in the deaths of three attendees and gunshot injuries to 17 others.

Within hours after the massacre, the Gilroy Foundation established a fund for the victims. The nonprofit formed an oversight committee to distribute the funds, with assistance from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation—which seeded the first $10,000 donation on the night of the shooting, Pray said.

Christopher Ranch “immediately matched that,” Pray added. 

“By 6 o’clock that night, we had over $100,000,” she said. “We were definitely overwhelmed with the generosity and caring of individuals and businesses. We expected that of Gilroy, but we didn’t realize how far-reaching this would be.”  

The foundation enlisted the help of Kenneth Feinberg to form a protocol for the eligibility and distribution of the funds, Pray said. Feinberg has done similar oversight for previous tragedies in the U.S., including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

In the months after the tragedy, larger organizations and businesses conducted their own fundraisers for the foundation’s Garlic Festival victims’ fund. The San Jose Sharks, San Francisco Giants and other teams held some of the largest of these events.

Children ran lemonade stands to raise funds for the victims, Pray said. “One little girl had a Zumba class and brought in some cash she raised.”

Pray estimated that the fund received thousands of individual donations. The smallest traceable donation was a $5 check that came in the mail in a sympathy card. “It said, ‘This is all I can afford, but I needed to help,’” Pray said.

The largest donation was a $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor.

The flow of donations into the local victims fund was so steadfast that the foundation had to extend its original application deadline from Jan. 31 to a date in May, Pray said. 

“The last distribution was made to shooting victims in mid-May,” she said.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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