Donations collected for Baby Sophia
UPDATE MONDAY (11/21): The effort to help Baby Sophia and her family continues with a local business also collecting donations.
When the business, Supplement World, heard what happened, it reached out to Sophia's family to see if there was something it could do.
Sophia's mother, Laura Abarca-Nogueda, was close to Supplement World through her work. The business is accepting any sort of donation for the family.
So far, it has received items like diapers, baby formula and clothing.
Sophia Gonzalez is safe with her family less than one week after her mother was murdered and she was abducted. Baby Sophia reunited with her family Saturday and police say she's healthy.
It's a bittersweet development in the case Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says is tragic. When Sophia went missing Thursday, thousands helped by sharing her photos and information.
With Baby Sophia home, the help for the infant and her family is more direct. An effort is underway in southeast Wichita to collect donations for Baby Sophia.
That effort was kick-started by Karina Rodriguez who doesn't know Sophia's family, but wanted to help them. She says she found the family on Facebook and has been in contact about the donations.
Like many, her help started with spreading the word about Sophia after she went missing.
"There was a baby missing, and her mom was just murdered. I thought, 'how awful is that.' So, I decided right away to share the pictures over and over, everywhere," Rodriguez says.
Now, Rodriguez is trying to help the family by collecting necessities for an infant, including diapers, wipes, baby formula and clothing.
Rodriguez contacted Sophia's uncle, Jose Albarca, about her desire to help. He approved the effort and is "super excited," Rodriguez says.
"He's very thankful with everybody," she says.
Since Sophia has been home, Albarca says she's been "eating like crazy" and sleeping a lot.
"Really, really happy that she's doing fine," Albarca says.
He says his family is still trying to process everything that's happened. He says her father, Manuel, was eager to pick up the infant and head home after she was found safe and returned to Wichita.
"We just want to make sure that Sophia and Manuel are being taken care of," Albarca says.
Rodriguez says Sophia especially needs diapers for a newborn, (either newborn size, or size 1) and baby formula (Similac brand with the blue lid).
Rodriguez says she's already responded to about 50 people wanting to help and she plans to start collecting donations for Baby Sophia this week at 3020 E. Stafford in Wichita.
"Whenever they come, I'm gonna start collecting (donations) here out on my porch, and then I'll just take it in," Rodriguez says.
Rodriguez says she did not know Sophia's mother, but they did attend the same high school.
"A lot of people are saying she was just the sweetest person, really, really nice girl," Rodriguez says. "I wish I could have met her."
Rodriguez says Sophia's story also is driving her to help because she has two children of her own, a four-year-old and a nine-month old.
"...I can't imagine that happening to me, or ya know having them missing," she says. "Ya know, I would go insane. So I just want to let the story out (to) everybody to get a hold of me to come and help and help this family in need right now."
Parent Cecilia Ramirez donated to help Sophia Sunday. Her small children donated from their savings. Ramirez says she prayed constantly for Sophia to appear after she went missing. Ramirez says Sophia's story has touched the Hispanic community to come together and help, but she says she would help anybody in any way she could.
Karina Gonzalez, who knows Sophie's father, Manuel, also has donated to help Sophia and her family.
"I know Manuel would do it for anyone; for anybody, so you just gotta do your part," Gonzalez says. "...It's our turn to help him because he would do it for us."
Those wishing to donate or with questions about doing so can call Rodriguez at 316-871-6439.
"I thank everybody for their help," Albarca says. "And there's no way I can pay them back. I just want to thank them forever."
A GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral expenses for Sophia's mother, Laura Orquidea Abarca Nogueda has raised more than $10,000 of its $15,000 goal as of Sunday evening. You can visit the GoFundMe page
"She was loved by so many people, and now she's loved by many, many more," Albarca says of his sister.