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Fundraiser held in Plumas Lake for car crash victim
For more information on fundraising efforts for Gertz's family, search for "Rachael Gertz Memorial Fundraiser Extravaganza" on Facebook.
Many, perhaps even most, of the people who went to a fundraising event for Rachael Gertz on Wednesday evening didn't know the woman who had died in a car accident last month on Feather River Boulevard.
But a sense of community, and pictures on fliers and Facebook of Gertz, 27, with her two young children, brought them out all the same.
"We can come together, even if we're all strangers," said Tyson Butler, a Plumas Lake resident with a young family like Gertz. A Sacramento police officer, he said he remembered the outpouring of support his family got when he was shot in the line of duty three years ago.
"I think this is a good indicator of a community still alive and well in this part of town," he said, as his son tentatively tried a tuft of cotton candy.
Gertz was driving on Feather River Boulevard on the night of Oct. 20 when she drove into a ditch near Myrna Avenue and died when she was thrown from her 2002 Honda Accord.
She left behind a husband, Ryan, and two children: daughter Ruby, 3, and son Robert, 1, said her friend, Abbie Moore, who organized the fundraiser.
"We moved in about the same time, and we just hit it off," said Moore, who lived across the street from Gertz. She said Gertz was a charismatic woman who loved her family, the outdoors and animals.
Originally, the fundraiser was going to be a modest silent auction at the Arboga Community Center. Then, as word spread online and through Plumas Lake, it grew, with small business owners, many in Plumas Lake, donating food, gift cards and more. A local band said they would play. A hairdresser offered haircuts.
Eventually, it spread beyond the community center to the cafeteria at neighboring Arboga School, where Wednesday a picture of Gertz with a flower in her hair greeted people as they walked in the door. From there, one could pick from hot dogs, nachos and pizza, as well as numerous sweet treats in a bake sale, all donated.
Outside, another friend of Gertz's, Jessica Jones, kept watch as youngsters clambered into an inflatable bounce house.
"The more people heard, they more they were willing to give," said Jones, 30. "People's generosity is just outrageous."
Inside the community center, several people set up tables selling wares from their at-home businesses. In addition to the silent auction proceeds, Moore said, anything profit those vendors would also be donated to Gertz's family.
One of them, Dale Bowman, smiled as she stood behind a table where she sold scrapbooking supplies.
"I just wanted to do what I could," said Bowman, adding she didn't know Gertz, but found out after she'd died she lived in her neighborhood. "It's an amazing turnout. I think there's a lot of love."
Moore said she hoped to raise thousands of dollars, and with the event not even halfway over, her husband, Jesse Moore, said he knew they had raised at least $1,000 already.
If she could see the turnout in her name, Abbie Moore said, her departed friend would probably be embarrassed.
"She'd probably be like, 'don't do all this for me,'" Moore said. "But I'm sure she's smiling from above."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at bvandermeer @appealdemocrat.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.