The baby girl, whom one of the sheriff's deputies named Gabriella, was laid to rest on Saturday morning in the “Garden of Innocence,” a 1,200 square foot corner donated to bury the bodies of abandoned children by Bakersfield's historic Union Cemetery.
The Kern County Sheriff's officers found the newborn's lifeless body discarded in a trash cash in Oildale, California, on June 21. A month-long search for the child's mother proved fruitless.
Commander Justin Fleeman, Detective Henry Bravo, and Sergeant James Newell donated $700 to the girl's burial.
“The way it was just thrown in the dumpster, it was not right,” Bravo said, adding that a case like hers “shocks the conscience” of “the entire community.”
But their shock turned to mourning and an expression of love this weekend.
Hundreds of people came, walking hand-in-hand as they prayed for Gabriella and two abandoned boys, who were given the names David and Michael, before seeing them buried beneath a layer of rose petals.
“At least they got hugged for the last time,” local mother Samantha First told KBAK News. “There's a lot of people that kissed their little coffins.”
Video footage shows their coffins – which, like everything else in the ceremony, were donated – being passed around, with attendees regularly kissing their cremated remains.
“When I held them, it kind of reminds me of when you have your own children,” Helen Alvarado told local ABC 23 News.
The outpouring of love reminded the community that there is no such thing as an unwanted child.
Luwanna Alvidres, a local woman who attended the ceremony, implored new parents, “If you see a person like me walking down the street, and you can't handle your kid, just hand him over.”
The local director of the Garden of Innocence, Juanita Medina, said the organization plans to bury another child sometime later this month.