Annette, 42, a Tracy resident who asked that her last name not be used, held her new granddaughter in her living room Wednesday in grateful tears as she thought about the outpouring of help she had received so far.
Her longtime family friend Tanika Zuniga has been telling her about the growing list of donations heading her way.
“I have been crying since she told me yesterday, I feel so blessed and amazed at everything,” Annette said.
Gary and Arianna were left by Annette’s oldest daughter days after she gave birth to them Jan. 17, almost six weeks premature, at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital. Annette knew nothing about the twins’ birth until the hospital bill arrived.
“I found out through the mail — I got a bill they were looking for my daughter,” Annette said. “The Tracy hospital said there were twins born to my daughter and transferred to San Joaquin County Hospital.”
Annette is a self-employed single mother who is already providing foster care for her 6-year grandson, the twins’ brother. Annette also has a 19-year-old son who is going to a local college, a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, all living at home.
After a visit to see her new grandchildren, she asked to have them placed with her for foster care, a process she is in the middle of working out.
“I went to go see the babies and discovered there was a case worker involved and they were going to need foster care,” Annette said. “I kind of prayed, stepped up to the plate and decided to go with it, and me are my family are doing it.”
While Annette was preparing to bring her grandchildren home, Zuniga, a crime and intelligence analyst at Tracy Police Department, decided to help her collect what she would need to care for the newborns.
“I care about Annette as if she is an extended family member of mine, so I knew she was going to need some support,” Zuniga said. “I didn’t know how large it was going to get. I never dreamed of it being this large — it has just been astonishing the community can care so much.”
On Feb. 13, Zuniga sent out emails to coworkers at the police department, fire department and City Hall asking for gently used baby clothes.
“She told me the situation and I thought about it the night before she was going to pick up the babies,” Zuniga said, “and I’ve worked for the police department for 14 years, and I know that they care just as much about the community members’ well being as they do about public safety.”
She was overwhelmed by the response.
The Tracy Police Officers Association gave cash to buy much-needed diapers and formula. The Tracy Fire Department contributed car seats.
The emails asking for help spread to Facebook, where the plight of the twins began to draw more attention and the promise of more help.
To streamline the donations, Zuniga has teamed with Lori Souza, who runs Case for Kids, a group that helps foster children.
Souza has planned a baby shower for the twins from 1 to 4 p.m. March 2 at the Great Plate Bar & Grill, 714 Central Ave.
“Tracy loves to give and I knew it would be big, but I had no idea it would be this big,” Souza said.
The twins are registered at Target and Walmart for the baby shower under both Souza’s name and Zuniga’s name.
Souza said that clothing was the easiest need to fill and she had already seen a lot of people promising online to bring baby clothes.
“Tanika and I had a goal of trying to get enough diapers and formula for one year — that would be amazing to help Annette and her family,” Souza said. “If people wanted to go together on big items, that would really help. Annette needs a swing, a bouncy thing and blankets.”
Souza said monetary donations and gift cards for the family can be sent to Case For Kids 1852 E. 11th St., Ste. 134, which will deliver them to Annette. People can also go to a YouCaring.com donation site, www.youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/single-income-grandma-rescues-twins-left-at-hospital/139474.
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