By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
Approximately 520 Christmas gifts have been distributed to area children through a joint Salvation Army and Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico project, according to Salvation Army officials.
Toys, food, clothing and other gifts donated by community members were delivered through Saturday morning, Salvation Army Capt. Tammy Ray said.
The Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico Empty Stocking Fund project runs in conjunction with the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
Through the Angel Tree program, good Samaritans can pick the names of children to buy gifts for from trees displayed in local shopping areas.
Eastern New Mexico families in need are highlighted in the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune from November through Christmas Eve for the Empty Stocking Fund.
Lynn Berry, Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico Empty Stocking Fund coordinator and member of the Salvation Army Board, said, “We have the medium to get the word out (about people in need).
“The whole general idea is to help those who can’t help themselves so their children can have a good Christmas,” Berry said.
This year, the Empty Stocking Fund project was scaled down for practical reasons, Ray said. The number of people who could apply to receive gifts through the program was limited to 500, she said.
“We knew it was within our means (to help 500 families),” Ray said.
“Last year, we struggled to meet the needs of everyone who applied because we took applications for too many children,” she said.
The project distributed 958 gifts in 2005. Had it not been for a last-minute donation last year from American Express, the Salvation Army would have had to tap into reserve funds to meet the needs of all its applicants, Ray said.
“Our community has been amazing this year,” Ray said of 2006 Empty Stocking Fund donations.
As of Saturday afternoon, $6,356 had been donated to the Salvation Army through the Empty Stocking Fund, according to Ray.
“People need to know there is going to be hope. Their lives don’t have to stay in crisis all the time. If I can bring that hope to a family through the generosity of our community, it makes it fun,” she said.
For information about this and other Salvation Army programs, call Capt. Tammy Ray at 762-3801 or visit the Salvation Army on 317 E. Second Street.
Donations for the Empty Stocking Fund will be accepted until Jan. 1, Ray said.
They may be dropped off or mailed to:
n Clovis News Journal, 521 Pile St., P.O. Box 1689, Clovis, NM 88101-1689
n Portales News Tribune, 101 E. First St., P.O. Box 848, Portales, NM 88130
Donations received after Christmas are used to pay the utility bills of people in need, Berry said.
Ray said the Salvation Army collected some extra gifts this year, which will be distributed throughout 2007 to families in crisis.