Strangers give 100+ gifts to children of mom missing since July

Gifts below a Christmas tree at Rocco's Bar and Grill in Salem were donated by employees and customers for the children of Cynthia Martinez, 26, who went missing in July.

SALEM, Ore. (KATU) — A heartwarming story played out at a bar in Salem Friday night as strangers gave gifts and money to help the family of Cynthia Martinez, 26, a mom who went missing in July.

Inside Rocco's Bar and Grill people grabbed a drink and a bite to eat and placed gifts under what's come to be known as Cynthia's tree.

Angelica Castillo, Cynthia's mother, told KATU life since her daughter went missing is touch and go.

"We never stop thinking about her," Angelica said. "It's like an everyday kind of thing -- wake up and go daily and that’s how we take it.”

Angelica and her husband, Cesar, Cynthia's stepdad, now share the responsibility of taking care of Cynthia's four children with her biological father.

They also have eight children of their own.

"Sometimes I feel guilty just throughout the day having everyday things to do that I think for a second, ‘Oh, I forgot to pray for Cynthia," Angelica said.

Cynthia, who lived in Woodburn, left Tequila Nights Bar and Grill in Keizer around 2:30 a.m. on July 16. She hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Police are still looking for her and 30-year-old Jaime Alvarez-Olivera, a man she was last seen with.

"If we find him, we perhaps may find her," explained Brenda Garcia, a bartender at Rocco's.

She said after seeing Cynthia's story in the news she wanted to help.

"I had a niece that was killed ten years ago and my sister was raising her 2-month-old baby after that," Brenda said.

Brenda, her co-workers and customers started a campaign on Facebook and put up a tree in Cynthia's name.

Since last week she estimates they've gathered more than 100 gifts for Cynthia's children.

"That’s amazing. I mean, presents and love and contributions. It’s just like – it’s the best feeling," said Angelica. "These moments are great and happy but we still need our baby back.”

Brenda said they've also raised $1,000 in reward money for anyone who can help find Cynthia or Jaime Alvarez-Olivera, who officers consider a person of interest in the case.

If you have information that can help investigators you're asked to call Keizer police at 503-856-3529.

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