Mike Cook’s annual list of ways to help those in need

Mike Cook | December, 2016 | Articles, Features


help-those-in-needAt this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir… We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put down for?

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (December 19, 1843)

Here are some ways to help the less fortunate in Doña Ana County this holiday season.

• The Salvation Army of Las Cruces/Doña Ana County needs donations of canned or pre-packaged food and frozen turkeys and toys. Deliver to 1590 California Ave. Call Dee Dee Varner at 524-1044. Send cash donations to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1423, Las Cruces, N.M. 88004. Emergency food provided to low-income families in need every Thursday, noon – 3 p.m.; quality used clothing provided to low-income children and adults every Wednesday, 9-11 a.m.; ID and utility bill required to prove Doña Ana County residency. Volunteers needed for holiday bell ringing (apply at 1590 California Ave.) — individuals (dressed as Santa or not), as well as groups, including people who can sing and/or play a musical instrument, including choirs and families. Contact Michael Evans at 524-4713 or michael.evans@usw.salvationarmy.org. Christmas gifts are needed for children in low-income families suffering extreme hardships such as a death in the family, including the suicide of an immediate family member; home lost to fire or flood damage; or a need reported by the Las Cruces Police Department. To help the XTREME Hardship Christmas for Kids program, call 524-4713. Volunteers are needed to help the Salvation Army do the most good to assist people in emergency situations. Thrift store at 220 E. Idaho Ave. seeks donations of new and gently used items. Drop them by or call 524-1590 to schedule pick up. Call 524-1950 to volunteer for other programs. Visit Facebook at The Salvation Army Las Cruces Corps and at newmexico.salvationarmy.org/new_mexico/las_cruces_corps_community_center_page.

• U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots of Las Cruces needs new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls ages birth to 16; toys can be placed in donation boxes countywide, visit las-cruces-nm.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx for locations. Send cash donations to purchase toys to Toys for Tots of Las Cruces, P.O. Box 7214, Las Cruces, N.M. 88006-7214. Email lascrucestft@gmail.com. Find them on Facebook at Las Cruces Toys for Tots. Visit toysfortots.org/donate/Default.aspx to donate online: select Las Cruces in the drop box. Toys for Tots hopes to provide toys to 5,000 needy children in Doña Ana County in 2016. It is coordinated through Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch school districts by Peggy Petrowsky and the El Perro Diablo Marine Corps League Det #478 of Las Cruces.

• The 22nd annual US Bank Las Cruces Coats for Kids. Drop off new or gently used coats for children ages birth to fifth grade at US Bank, 277 E. Amador Ave.; Comet Cleaners, 2001 E. Lohman Ave. (Arroyo Plaza), 2497 N. Main St. (across from Albertsons) and 555 Utah St., Suite A (Utah at El Paseo Road); 101 Gold Radio, 101 Perkins Drive (Med Park). Other partners are Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico and D2Design. Coat sizing and sorting done by Doña Ana Head Start social workers. Send cash donations to Coats for Kids, c/o US Bank, 277 E. Amador Ave., Las Cruces, N.M. 88001. Call Karen Bailey at 636-6706. Coats for Kids expects to provide about 4,000 coats this year to children selected by the Las Cruces, Gadsden, and Hatch school districts. It has provided nearly 43,000 coats in the past 21 years.

• La Casa, Inc. domestic violence shelter needs non-perishable food items, food baskets, coats, blankets, toys, gifts for children of all ages and adults, household items, furniture, gift cards in any amount, clothing, toiletries, used vehicles; adopt a La Casa family to buy holiday gifts for. Take items to 800 S. Walnut St. Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Contact Sara at 526-2819 or sarmijo@lacasainc.org. Visit lacasainc.org/bazaar.php. Mail cash donations to La Casa, Inc. P.O. Box 2463, Las Cruces, N.M. 88004. Donate online at lacasainc.org. Volunteers also needed. La Casa’s emergency shelter, open 24/7, houses up to 80 people. Founded in 1981, La Casa provided more than 22,000 days of care last year, plus many services to more than 2,000 people county-wide.

• Las Cruces Public Schools’ Project Link Homeless Education needs blankets, winter coats (male and female, children’s sizes five thru adult large), nonperishable food for families during schools’ winter break (December 21 – January 6), toys and personal hygiene items. Take donations to the federal programs office at the LCPS administration building, 505 S. Main St., Loretto Towne Centre, Suite 249. Project Link serves about 750 temporarily or permanently homeless students and families. Contact Yoli Silva at 527-5913 or ysilva@lcps.k12.nm.us or Jesus Herrera at 527-5868 or jherrera@lcps.k12.nm.us.

• Children’s Reading Alliance engages families and the community in childhood literacy so all children reach their full potential in school and life. With a motto of “Raising Readers Together,” it has directly served 700 families through its parent education program, First Teacher and Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Over 20,000 new books have been given to children ages infant to eight in the county during summer story time and book-distribution events. Donations of new and gently used children’s books are needed. No religious books please. Send cash donations to Children’s Reading Alliance, P.O. Box 285, Mesilla, N.M. 88046. Email Rorie Measure at rmeasure@gmail.com to arrange a book drop off. Visit childrensreadingalliance.org.

• The 12th annual Be a Santa to a Senior provides gifts to area lonely, needy senior citizens. Local non-profits provide participants’ names. Ornaments with first names and gift requests can be taken from the tree at Mesilla Valley Mall, 700 S. Telshor Blvd. Thursday, December 15, is the last day for gift tags; buy gifts and take them, unwrapped, with senior ornament attached, to Mesilla Valley Mall Service Center or to Home Instead Senior Care, 880 S. Telshor Blvd., Suite 200, by Monday, December 19. Community wrapping party is Wednesday, December 21, at Home Instead Senior Care; gift delivery is Thursday, December 22. Contact Buffy Johnson at 522-7133 or buffy.johnson@homeinstead. com. Send cash donations to Home Instead Senior Care, 880 S. Telshor Blvd., Suite 200, Las Cruces, N.M. 88011. Visit homeinstead.com/138/default.aspx and beasantatoasenior.com.

• Project Linus needs new, washable, handmade quilts, afghans or fleece blankets, which will be given to local children who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Also needed are blanket-making materials, postage stamps, cash donations and gift cards to either Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts or Hobby Lobby to purchase supplies. Contact Susan Stoltzfus at 526-3695 or sgstolt13@gmail.com. Mail donations to Susan Stoltzfus, P.O. Box 116, Mesilla Park, N.M. 880047. Visit projectlinus.org.

• City of Las Cruces Juvenile Citation Program needs donations of non-perishable food for its holiday food drive, along with durable household goods, cleaning products and paper products (paper towels, facial tissue, toilet paper, etc.) for local families. A collection box is at the program office, 890 Tornillo St. (open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday). Contact Grace Telles at 541-2277 or gtelles@las-cruces.org.

• Las Cruces Dress the Child Program, now in its 30th year, sponsored by the Las Cruces Rio Grande Rotary Foundation, buys new clothes and shoes for needy children and hopes to serve 450 or more in 2016 (2015: 466, 2014: 450, 2013: 532, 2012: 437, 2011: 432, 2010: 475) from Las Cruces and Gadsden school districts. Make checks payable to Cruces Rio Grande Rotary Foundation – Dress the Child, send to Las Cruces Rio Grande Rotary Foundation, ATTN: Brad Beasley, P.O. Box 550, Las Cruces, N.M. 88004. Contact Doug Boberg at 644-9469 or dougboberg@comcast.net.

• Seventh annual “Snap”py Critter Christmas, 1 – 4 p.m., Sunday, December 11, at Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave. Benefits Spay/Neuter Action Program (SNAP); tickets are $50 each, which includes lunch, live music, no-host bar, dog treat buffet, live and silent auctions, raffles; wellbehaved, leashed dogs welcome. Tickets available at the SNAP office (see below); American Classified, 151 S. Solano Drive; Better Life Pet Foods, 365 Avenida de Mesilla and 315 Telshor Blvd., behind Whataburger; Horse N Hound Feed N Supply, 991 W. Amador Ave.; and online at HoldMyTicket.com/event/256633. Deliver or mail donations to SNAP, 2405 W. Picacho Blvd., Ste. 103, Las Cruces, N.M. 88007. Contact SNAP at 524-9265 or snapnm@zianet.com. Visit snapnewmexico.org and on Facebook at Critter Christmas and Snap Spay Neuter Action Program.

• Mesilla Valley Community of Hope: Includes Jardin de los Niños Homeless Child Care, El Caldito Soup Kitchen, St. Luke’s Health Care Clinic, Casa de Peregrinos Emergency Food Bank; 999 W. Amador Ave, Las Cruces, N.M. 88005. Homeless residents of MVCH Tent City need donations of new or gently used coats, blankets, socks, gloves, tents, towels, shampoo, soap and other toiletry items. Cash donations are also welcome. Take donations to 999 W. Amador Ave. Mail donations to MVCH, P.O. Box 6875, Las Cruces, N.M. 88006. Contact Executive Director Nicole Martinez at 523-2219 or hope@zianet.com. Visit www.mvcommunityofhope.org.

• Jardin de los Niños homeless child care needs non-perishable food, clothing, household items, new and used children’s items and toys, diapers (including pull-ups for older children), baby wipes (their greatest need), detergent, all hygiene products and a video camera. Jardin has an adopt-a-family program for the holidays (help with food, party supplies, gifts, etc.). Stop by and see their wish list toy book as they seek donations of $10 – $300 to put quality toys in their classrooms. Volunteers needed to sort donations on Fridays, 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Call 522-2111. Jardin is open 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. at Community of Hope, 999 W. Amador Ave., Suite E. Mail donations to 1300-G El Paseo, PMB #272, Las Cruces, N.M. 88001. Visit jardinlc.org. Shop and volunteer at Jardin de los Niños Ladies Boutique, 335 La Colonia Ave. (southwest corner of Alameda Boulevard and Main Street), donations of new and gently used items welcome. Jardin began serving children and families in 1995.

• El Caldito Soup Kitchen needs hams, yams, turkeys, spices, salt and pepper in bulk, one gallon and sandwich-sized zip-lock bags. Take items to 999 W. Amador Ave. (Community of Hope campus), El Caldito is on the left, please deliver items to back door. Open Sunday – Friday., 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. – noon. Call Martin at 525-3831 during business hours. After hours, call 644-8737. Email elcalditosoupkitchen@gmail.com. Donate online at elcaldito.com or send donations to El Caldito, P.O. Box 2833, Las Cruces, N.M. 88004. Volunteers also needed: contact Martin at 525-3831 or email elcalditosoupkitchen@gmail.com. El Caldito opened in 1984 and has served more than two million meals to date; it serves more than 90,000 meals a year.

• Gospel Rescue Mission offers emotional support and moral guidance to homeless residents, while providing for their physical needs so they may re-assimilate into society as self-sufficient citizens. The shelter never closes and accepts donations any time. For the winter, it is collecting jackets and blankets to issue one or both to those in need. Also seeking donations to help pay for $194,000 in solar panels on the shelter roof that will generate 85 percent of the total mission energy through 2040 and save $120,000 in the next five years. For Christmas Meals on Wheels, volunteers are needed to cook, serve and deliver hot holiday meals to shut-ins around the county. Donations of turkeys, hams, green beans, corn, yams and traditional fixings are needed for the holiday.

From January-September 2016, the mission kitchen served more than 49,000 meals, the shelter provided 14,620 nights lodging to men, women and children and volunteers in the back-to-school program issued new shoes and clothing to more than 650 children in August. The mission uses no tax money, so services are free to client and taxpayer. Take food and other donations to the mission at 1050 W. Amador Ave. any time. Visit lcgrm.org for more information. Call 523-7727 to volunteer or for pick-up of larger items. Email hope@lcgrm.org.

• Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico needs donations to help low-income individuals and families become self-sufficient, including Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts that help people pursue higher education, homeownership; entrepreneurship), children’s savings accounts; and financial literacy classes that help families learn basic fiscal responsibility and ways to save. CAA also has screening/enrollment programs to connect people to Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Child and Adult Food Care Program, etc. Contact Marcus Crawford at 527-8799 or crawfordm@caasnm.org. Mail/take donations to CAA, 3880 Foothills Road, Suite A, Las Cruces, N.M. 88011. Donate online at caasnm.org. CAA serves 22,000-plus people annually in southwest New Mexico.

• Seventh annual Christmas Shoe Box Project for children in Palomas, Mexico: Churches and groups in southern New Mexico and N.M. Dept. of Health employees take shoeboxes filled with gifts for children, coats and blankets to Palomas. Needed: toy cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, yo-yos, etch-asketches, jump ropes, slinkies, pull toys for babies (no toys with batteries or toy guns); school supplies (pencils, pens, blunt scissors, pencil sharpeners, stamp and ink pad sets, solar calculators, coloring books); hygiene items (soap, combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, small bottles of lotion, washcloths); socks, underwear, batteries, mittens/gloves, warm hats, tee shirts, toy jewelry, inexpensive watches, hard candy and lollipops (put candy in plastic baggies). Take filled shoeboxes/items to NMDOH Office of Border Health, 1170 N. Solano Drive by 5 p.m. Friday, December 9. Contact Marjorie Powey at 894-6641 or 740-0421 (dial 1-575), and Angie Sanchez Corral at NMDOH in Las Cruces at 528-5123 or angie.sanchez@state.nm.us.

• Casa de Peregrinos: Donate online, call 523-5542, or take donations to 999 W. Amador Ave., Suite F. Visit casadeperegrinos.org/home/donations to see what’s needed most. Business and donation hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Food assistance hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 3 p.m. Bring ID and recent proof of address for food assistance. Volunteers welcome. $50 provides 250 meals, $100 feeds an average family for a month. Visit casadeperegrinos.org. Casa de Peregrinos expects to distribute more than two million pounds of food in Doña Ana County in 2016 at main site and 12 rural pantries. It also provides food at monthly mobile food pantries at five Las Cruces senior centers and the main and East Mesa campuses of Doña Ana Community College.

• Gospel Rescue Mission: Take donations to 1050 W. Amador Ave. or donate online at lcgrm.org. Email lcgrm@qwestoffice.net or call LuAnne at 644-9563.

• Roadrunner Food Bank: As the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, the food bank supply’s food to hundreds of partners across the state, including 17 partner agencies, 26 mobile food pantry locations, six schools and three senior sites based in Doña Ana County. The most efficient way to help is by making a financial contribution to help the food bank acquire and distribute food. Right now, Bank of America’s Charitable Foundation will donate $2 for every $1 donated up to $1,000. Visit rrfb.org/giveameal to have your gift matched. To donate food items, call (505) 349-8921 or email annamarie@rrfb.org. They will put you in touch with a partner in the Las Cruces area to deliver food items to. Volunteers are also needed to help with the SNAP Outreach program throughout the year. To volunteer, contact Ricardo Trejo at ricardo.trejo@rrfb.org or 323-5140. For general food bank inquiries, contact Community Programs Manager Amanda Cuba at 323.5150 or amanda.cuba@rrfb.org, or visit 505 S. Main St., Suite 149A from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday.

New Mexico ranks second among all states for childhood hunger and seventh for overall hunger. For food assistance, call 523-4390 or download the free app at rrfb.org/apple orrrfb.org/googleplay. Roadrunner Food Bank began service in 1980 and feeds 70,000 people each week statewide.

• Aggie Cupboard is a free, private service that distributes nonperishable food to NMSU students, staff and faculty in need from the NMSU Las Cruces and Doña Ana Community College campuses; food is available by presenting a current NMSU ID. Fall hours are 3 – 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment by contacting aggiecupboard@nmsu.edu. Food donations can be dropped off on Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon at Regents Row, Room B114, NMSU campus, or e-mail to arrange for pickup. Items frequently needed: canned chicken and tuna, peanut butter, soup, canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, powdered/evaporated milk, bottled juice and cooking oil. Contact Lori Martinez at 646-2731 or aggiecupboard@nmsu.edu. Visit aggiecupboard.nmsu.edu/ and on Facebook at Aggie Cupboard @ NMSU. You can also donate online at giving.nmsu.edu and specify that your gift is for Aggie Cupboard.



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