Friday, November 13, 2015

Where Can You Help Out This Thanksgiving in Albuquerque?

By Karen Navarro
Every year at this time, Albuquerqueans call up social service agencies asking where they can serve Thanksgiving dinner, a way to give back to those who are less fortunate materially than they are. They may want to involve the whole family.

The truth is, the places that serve Thanksgiving dinner do not have to look for volunteers to serve the meal -- they already have more people offering to serve than they have places on the buffet line.

However, each year La Mesa Presbyterian Church, 7401 Copper Ave. NE (map), which serves a HUGE Thanksgiving meal, is looking for people to help with set-up, clean-up, and delivery of meals to people who are homebound. You can call the church office, 255-8095, and ask: “What can I do to help you out on Thanksgiving Day?”

Also each year, there is a huge project you can get involved with that provides food boxes to approximately 100 families during Thanksgiving week, when many students have inadequate nutrition while school is closed for the holiday. The project is directed by Help Equals Hope, a program of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called America's Children. Visit their website to learn more about this organization. They work with teachers, principals, shelters and social workers to identify those they know who are in need of a Thanksgiving Week food box.

How can you help? By donating Smith’s or other grocery store gift cards for the purchase of turkeys and other food items – OR – by donating non-perishable food items and taking them to one of the five designated drop-off locations:
  • !Explora! at 1701 Mountain Rd. NW (map); 
  • GN Services, Inc. at 1425 Carlisle NE (map); 
  • Sports…Décor & More! at 1001 Yale Blvd. SE, Unit K (map) ; 
  • Sol Acting Academy at 5500 San Mateo NE, #114 (map); 
  • Outcomes, Inc. at 1503 University Blvd. NE (map). 
The deadline for drop-offs is Saturday, Nov. 21.

Food items requested: turkeys, stuffing, sweet potatoes, potatoes, canned vegetables, cranberry sauce, bread/rolls, chile, olives, rice, cereal, beans, gravy mix, desserts, drink mix, etc.

The easiest way to help organizers get enough turkeys is to buy a gift card at Smith's, Walmart, John Brooks or Albertson's, and drop it off at one of the five drop-off sites or mail it to:

Help Equals Hope
P.O. Box 66765
Albuquerque, NM 87193

Include a note saying “this is for the Thanksgiving food drive.”

Each year Help Equals Hope also holds a school supply drive in August, providing backpacks of school supplies for children whose parents can't afford to purchase them, and they gather monetary and in-kind donations year-round.

(The author worked at St. Martin's Hospitality Center for 21 years, including her role as client advocate for much of that time. She continues to network with colleagues in homeless services).

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