Saturday, July 31, 2010

Letter Carriers Food Drive and Other Responses to Palomas crisis

Silver City, located in southwestern New Mexico, has a population of just over 10,000. For a community this size, you only need a handful of letter carriers.

So why am I blogging about letter carriers in Silver City? I want to publicize the fact that the letter carriers and their route supervisors decided to hold a special food drive on August 7 to benefit the community of Palomas, Chihuahua, which is just across the border from Columbus, N.M.

As with most food drives, the letter carriers are collecting non-perishable food items, which will be collected at mail boxes during delivery.  (Picture: Volunteers and some of the donated  food)

One mail carrier, Guadalupe Núñez, is also collecting school sponsorship funds for the children, who are in dire need in order to be able to attend shool this fall. If you'd like to help, please contact Mr. Nunez at (505) 538-1232.

"Many children in Palomas are in danger of not being able to attend school this fall because of the economic and humanitarian crisis. School enrollments have never been as low in Palomas as they are now. Please open doors to a child's future on our border with Mexico," said Victoria Tester, volunteer coordinator for La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach

As we blogged a couple of weeks ago, there is a food emergency ("hunger crisis," if you'd like to call it that) in Palomas, due to high unemployment levels and the impact of violence by drug cartels on the movement of goods, including food, into the community.  Ms. Tester described the situation in an earlier blog post.  (The above piece of art was drawn by one of the children of Palomas)

The donations collected from the Silver City mail carriers drive will supplement the food that La Luz de la Esperanza Palomas Outreach distributes in that community's center on Calle Buenaventura.

Many people in New Mexico and in El Paso, Texas, have responded generously to the crisis in Palomas, including a benefit concert in Silver City.  The communities of Silver City and Deming have also set up drop-off locations.

Here is a note from Mary Oleske from the New Mexico Human Services Department:
I spoke with Claudia Trueblood from the Diocese of Las Cruces this morning and she is working closely with Victoria Tester. Claudia let me know that there are a number of churches and parishes collecting food and funds to help, as far as Silver City. Claudia has a donation from ConAgra, which will need to be picked up in Colorado in September or October (flour, rice, and beans) which I said my Bureau can pick up and deliver for them. I let her know that the Roadrunner Food bank will be sending mobile pantries.
Melody Wattenbarger, executive director of the Roadrunner Food Bank, offers more details about the mobile pantries.
We are absolutely going to do a series of Mobile Pantries in Columbus in partnership with the food bank in Las Cruces. They will do the labor/transportation and we will supply the food. Our goal is to deliver 5,000 pounds per week for the five crucial weeks. We will start the food going to Las Cruces next Thursday (July 8) and start the Mobile Pantries to Columbus in the middle of July.
We are delighted that you are interested in a food drive. The food could go either to RRFB (designated for delivery to Columbus) or to the CAAFB in Las Cruces (again designated for Columbus). As we are absorbing all of the costs, cash contributions are also welcome. I believe we could use any kind of non-perishable food. We are delighted to have HSD partnering with us in whatever way works best for you.
And Jamye Boone Ward, a Bread for the World member in El Paso, Texas.
El Paso will be collecting a special emergency offering and plan to purchase at least 1,000 lbs of beans and a 1,000 lbs of rice.  We are looking at purchasing powdered milk in bulk. Jerry and Susie Hobson, church members with a farm near La Union, N.M. have, for the 2nd year, planted more than an acre of vegetables to donate to the West Texas Food Bank and to distribute to food insecure families living near our church building in downtown El Paso. 
We should be able to take some of the fresh produce to La Luz de la Esperanza this summer.  Please, keep me on your contact list for this project and thank you, so much, for making us aware of our neighbors' crisis.
Of course, this are actions intended to deal with the emergency at hand. And it's likely that short-term responses will be needed for some time.    
If you want to help please send a note to Victoria Tester, or Esperanza Lozoya,
Long-term solutions are more complex and depend on a recovery in the economy of Mexico (which depends on a recovery in the U.S.) And then there is the problem of drug-related violence (again a problem that must be addressed jointly by the governments of the U.S. and Mexico)

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