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Main St. Caf accepts donations for toddlers who lost mom
Jakkie Arellano, left, owner of Main St. Café, and her sister Melanie Cardoza, show some of the kids’ clothes that people have dropped off at the restaurant. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
Main St. Café in Manteca has made its facility as the drop-off site for donations to the family of the late Michelle “Shell” Guillermo.

The 38-year-old mother died of complications from surgery last month leaving her husband Richard “Richie” and their three young children – Sami, 3, and twins Abbigail and Gabriel who are turning 2 this month.

Family and friends have been trying to help the family cope not only with grief but with immediate basic necessities in life, which is where the Main St. Café comes in. When Richie’s aunt, NaNa Gale Manding from Tucson, Ariz., started a clothes donation for the children, Jakkie Arellano stepped forward and generously offered her restaurant as a drop-off place. The restaurant is located at 1464 W. Yosemite Avenue across the street from the Save Mart shopping center.

In addition to children’s clothing, they are looking for diapers, pull-ups, diaper wipes, baby powder and food such as milk for the babies. Three-year-old Sami is almost potty-trained and uses Huggies size 5T pull-ups. The barely 2-year-old twins use size 5 Huggies diapers.

Helping the young father in taking care of the children are their grandmother, Junie Manding, and Richie’s sister Michelle Guillermo-Gines.

The young widower was laid off two years ago from his job as a plumber. During his lengthy futile search for a job, his wife was able to find a job as a waitress in Stockton which reversed their roles, with the husband and father a stay-at-home Mr. Mom while the children’s mom was at work. Compounding the situation though for the young father and his three young children was the loss of their only means of transportation. A week before Michelle had surgery, the transmission of their van went kaput. Fund-raisers such as a drive-thru barbecued tri-tip and pesto dinner at Fagundes Meats on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 4 to 7 is hoped to raise money to fix the van.

Tickets for the barbecued dinner with all the trimmings are $12 each and are available at Fagundes Meats, Main St. Café, J&J Printing which donated the tickets, and from friends and family members like Brian Corcoran who is coordinating this fund-raiser.

The death of the three young children’s mother was the fourth tragic loss for the extended Guillermo family in just the past year. In January, the Guillermo’s Grandmama, Peggy Manding, with whom Richard and Michelle had a special bond passed away.

“She was the rock of our family,” Junie Manding, Richie’s mother, said of Grandmama Peggy.

Also earlier this year, the extended family suffered another loss with the death of Richie’s cousin, Jowell Griggs.

Arellano of Main St. Café, who is also related to the four-generation Guillermo family in Manteca, said there hasn’t been a huge response so far to the clothing donation for the young children. Donations can be dropped off at the restaurant during regular business hours: Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Tickets for the Fagundes Meats drive-thru dinner are also available here. For more information about the clothing donation or how to help the family, call (209) 825-2242.