Stephen Ellison

Gilroy Community Rallies Around Garlic Festival Shooting Victim

A South Bay group Tuesday was hoping to remind a grandmother of the kindness of strangers in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

Barbara Aguirre's grandson was shot and killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July, and she was wounded. And while nothing can heal those wounds, several volunteers were hoping to at least make her life a little easier by giving her a car.

Aguirre, who still walks with a crutch, was overcome with emotion when she was handed the keys to the newly refurbished car.

Technicians at Caliber Collision worked nights and weekends on their own time to fix and deliver a car to a family trying so hard to move on from tragedy.

On Tuesday, Aguirre's daughter spoke for her.

"Gilroy isnt a bad place," Berta Aguirre said. "Yes there was a tragedy, but people in the community showed something different."

Insurance giant Geico donated the damaged car, and the team of technicians at Caliber Collision in Morgan Hill spent 135 hours of their own time repairing the 2015 Hyundai Elantra.

"A lot of the donated time was after their normal eight-hour shift and on Saturdays and Sundays," said Ruben Higareda, general manager of Caliber Collision.

The Gilroy Foundation chose 69-year-old Aguirre as the recipient.

"The grandmother received the car because she was shot herself, and her daughter was shot and her grandson is no longer living.

Considered the matriarch of the family, Aguirre drives her eight grandkids to school and activities, but her current car was unreliable and had no air conditioning. Having the refurbished car means she can continue to help her family as they try to cope with loss during the holidays.

"We’re getting through it and keep moving forward," Berta Aguirre said.

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