Kids don’t always get the adage “It’s better to give than to receive.” I mean, who doesn’t like getting presents, am I right? Yet, somewhere along life’s path we seem to learn the truth behind this philosophy. When we do, it’s truly a beautiful thing. Though we know this, sometimes with work, school schedules, appointments, and all of the tedium we power through each and every day, we forget. We lose track of how important just a bit of our time and effort can mean to someone in need. This time of year, we’re even busier. Shopping, baking, and entertaining stretch our schedules (and nerves) to the limit. But what if we prioritized a charitable act by adding it to our gift list? We wouldn’t bump someone off our list because we couldn’t find the time to go buy their present. We would find the time by whatever means necessary, which can also be extended to supporting local charities.
We at Neighbors want to encourage you to make time to give back to your community this season. In our efforts to find charities to inspire you, our biggest challenge was narrowing the field because there are so many worthwhile nonprofits that can use all the help they can get. To help you learn more about each organization, we’ve provided links and information so you can follow up with those that speak to your heart. We’ve also provided both hands-on and distanced options to give you more choices on how you want to serve your community. And, don’t forget to involve your kids! What better way to instill the merits of giving in children than by allowing them to actively participate with their parents in acts of kindness?
El Caldito Soup Kitchen
El Caldito Soup Kitchen has served more than two million meals over the past 30 years to homeless and economically impacted residents of Las Cruces and surrounding communities. While financial contributions are needed, there are other means of support that are equally appreciated. Because of the sheer volume of help it provides, volunteers are always needed to cook and serve meals. Food donations are greatly appreciated and can be as simple as picking up some extra items while you’re doing your own shopping and delivering them. They’ll even unload them for you! (Note: due to food safety regulations, the kitchen is unable to accept home-cooked items and they ask you not to drop off donations while they are serving meals.) Making a financial contribution is another way to help El Caldito feed others this holiday season.
To volunteer, register online or call 575-636-0423. Donate online, or mail a check to El Caldito Soup Kitchen, 999 West Amador Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005. More information at elcalditolc.org.
Down Syndrome Coalition for El Paso
Down Syndrome Coalition for El Paso strives to provide resources and support for families of children with Down syndrome (DS). From the time of prenatal diagnosis of DS to the various stages of life, services are offered to help and guide the individual and families. With COVID-19 postponing or altering major fundraisers, the organization needs more help than ever. The coalition is registered with the Amazon Smile program, which means you can help them raise money via the purchases you already make. They also have an Amazon wish list to help out with needed supplies. So, look them up if you’re an Amazon buyer! Also, for a better understanding of what a parent grapples with, please search YouTube for “How to Deal with Down Syndrome and The Divine Chromosome” from Down’s father-turned-advocate Doug Billings. It’s a firsthand, honest perspective on raising a child with DS and illuminates why families need support as they go through phases of shock and acceptance all the way to gratitude and that happy ending every parent desires.
Find more information or to donate online, go to dscep.org.
Mesilla Valley Hospice
Mesilla Valley Hospice offers more than hospice services. It also houses assisted living residents for whom recent lockdowns have been a tremendous struggle. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the nature of volunteering in many ways. Rather than in-person visits, volunteers at hospice find other ways to enhance the lives of assisted living residents and hospice patients, from playing music outside where residents can safely enjoy the songs to enhancing the look of outside courtyards with beautiful flowers and decorations. Volunteers also send handwritten cards and letters to hospice residents and patients or make phone calls to provide support. A select few volunteers are trained to interview patients about their life stories, which is then recorded and presented to the patient/family as a treasured legacy. Another way to support hospice is to visit The Emporium, where you can find fabulous gifts with proceeds going directly to Mesilla Valley Hospice. It’s a definite win-win!
To find out about volunteering, contact Catharine Walkinshaw, volunteer coordinator, at [email protected] or 575-523-4700. More information at mvhospice.org.
Stick House Sanctuary
Stick House Sanctuary is dedicated to rehabilitating thousands of domesticated animals and wildlife each year along with opening their doors to domestic fowl in need. Volunteering is priceless and doesn’t always mean caregiving. The sanctuary regularly needs offsite help, like those who can transport animals as well as those willing to release rehabilitated animals back into nature. Because the sanctuary is so busy with the tasks of caring for the animals, there’s simply no time to devote to creating digital media. So, on their wish list this year, is someone to donate services to create a website. With only social media pages, they have lost the ability to be considered for many grants that would help them tremendously. In addition, the sanctuary feeds a wide range of animals and has an Amazon wish list with suggestions for food and materials that can be delivered directly to them.
To learn more, call Julie Ito Morales at 915-219-2365 or search Stick House Sanctuary on Facebook, where they often post emergency transportation needs.
We hope these very deserving charities have sparked something in you. Without human kindness, our world would be a very sad place. But, with just a little effort, we can do our part to help make things better. And, as we do what we can, we find we’re not alone. We’re part of a community of helpers. And, what may seem like a small act is part of a cumulative effort, like ripples on a pond. Neighbors would like to wish you and yours a happy and joyous holiday season and hope that you will find further blessing in being a blessing during this season of giving.
Written by Jillian Mills
Originally published in Neighbors magazine | 2020
Posted by LasCruces.com