Area residents remain charitable despite sluggish economy

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Charitable organizations in Roosevelt and Curry counties are reporting donations mostly equal or above last year’s levels as Christmas approaches.

Most of those organizations say they have enough to meet community requests for the holiday.

Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Nancy Taylor said her organization has been holding a canned food drive since the weekend before Thanksgiving.

“Our need has increased a little over a third compared to last year for the charitable agencies we serve,” she said. “That’s a bunch.”

However, Taylor said, the food drive that started in November and the drives at Portales and Clovis schools brought in increased donations.

Although Taylor said it would be a long dry spell between the current food drive and the next drive in May, she expected to meet all holiday needs.

For United Way of Eastern New Mexico, Executive Director Erinn Burch said money raised in Curry and Roosevelt counties was about even with last year’s donations or possibly ahead, with numbers changing daily.

However, she said last year United Way saw fewer contributions than in the years before, forcing $200,000 in grant requests to go unfilled.

In Portales, Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry said requests and donations were up for the annual Operation Santa Cop toy drive.

“It seems like the economy is in a bit of a slump, but people really came across,” he said.

Berry said the toy drive would “absolutely” be able to provide for every child whose name was submitted.

As for the Salvation Army kettles, Roosevelt County Ministerial Alliance treasurer David McVey estimated fundraising in Portales was more than half way to its $10,000 goal. He said he thought giving was close to last year’s level, but it might be down a little.

The money will be distributed throughout 2010, McVey said.

In Clovis, Salvation Army Maj. Tammy Ray said cash going into the kettles was a little less than last year’s. But gold coins donated would allow the total contributions to exceed those in 2008.

“People have been extremely generous, especially in the last week,” she said.

Ray anticipates the Salvation Army will be able to meet needs of all of the children in the Angel Tree program and the families in the Empty Stocking Fund.

At the Matt 25 Hope Center, administrative assistant Terry Osborne said staff has been able to fill requests from about 50 families.

“All of the requests we’ve had, we’ve had people step up and meet those needs,” she said.

Also, Sherri Munro, executive director of Family and Children Court Services, said enough toys had been donated to her organization to provide for all of the foster children it serves plus some other families, despite a larger need this year.

“The outpouring has been greater this year,” she said.