Hundreds offer to help siblings orphaned by drug war violence
Hundreds of readers have offered support to a young El Monte man whose story of becoming patriarch to four younger siblings after a drug cartel shooting robbed them of their parents appeared in a Column One in The Times.
More than 300 people have called or written to ask how they can help Adali Gutierrez, 20, and his siblings.
Checks have arrived blindly in the mail -- several have been for $100; one was for $5, along with a simple note in Spanish.
The offers have included money, gift cards, groceries, a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, rent payments, computers and Internet access.
The family’s parents were killed with they inadvertently walked into a drug war dispute in Mexico. Adali, who was there to celebrate his birthday, was seriously injured in the shootings, and was left with lasting scars on his face.
One of the offers of support came from Dr. Timothy Miller, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Adali has an appointment on Monday with Miller, who is the chief surgeon for a UCLA group that treats wounded troops.
Many who wrote were modest, saying they weren’t wealthy but wanted to share what they did have:
“I can’t imagine kids celebrating holidays such as Christmas without their parents and the traditions that come along with it. I am not wealthy in any sense but I would like to send this family gifts for Christmas to make their holiday a little more merrier.”
“I may not have much, but I want to help. I'm a father and husband. We took in a ward, my ‘new son,’ we call him. And we too do without luxuries. But we can help a little. Let us know how.”
"I’m a student and work part-time to support myself through college, yet I would like to help in some way. It won’t be much, but me and my family have been through financial difficulties ourselves, and I know it will make a difference.”
“I was touched by your story on the Gutierrez family and was wondering if there was any way I could help with tutoring the kids one or two days a week if they need that or are open to that. My husband and I both come from working class, single-parent homes. My husband had to grow up fast too, at the age of 19, when his mother lost several fingers while cleaning a poultry machine at her job. My husband had to drop out of college, get a full time job to take care of his mom and two younger sisters. As he said, it just had to be done.”
The San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps, where Adali Gutierrez works, is collecting the donations and coordinating the offers of assistance for the family.
-- Deirdre Edgar
Photo: Adali Gutiereez scoots his sister closer to the dinner table. Credit: Genaro Molina.