COUNTY EMPLOYEES DONATE 600+ GIFTS TO AREA YOUTH

COUNTY EMPLOYEES DONATE 600+ GIFTS TO AREA YOUTH

For eight years, Doña Ana County employees have ensured that children in the county’s neediest communities will have something to unwrap this holiday season. During the past month, a county-wide toy drive has been underway to gather more than 600 gifts that will be handed out during Winter Celebrations at six Doña Ana County Community Resource Centers.

Each center collects about 100 names of children in each community who participate in health and wellness classes, education outreach programs, and summer youth programs.

Each child’s information is then included on ornament tags that hang on trees throughout each Doña Ana County department, where employees can choose a tag that will correspond to a gift they choose to buy. Employees only know the gender of the child, what their interests are, and the sizes of clothing and shoes they wear.

After the gifts are collected, they are wrapped, tagged with each child’s name, and sent to each Community Resource Center to be distributed during the Winter Celebrations.

According to Eric Bransford, a program coordinator with the county’s Health and Human Services Department, the toy drive is one that grows each year.

“In the eight years we’ve done this, we have been able to give away more than 4,500 gifts, and each year it seems we always need more,” Bransford said.

Volunteers and county employees are welcome to participate in the Winter Celebrations in each community. For some, it’s an opportunity to see how a selfless, charitable act is received by children who otherwise might not have something to open during the holiday season.

“It’s not uncommon for us to give the child their gift, only to watch them take it home unopened,” says Bransford. “For that child, it’s more important to have something to open later.”

The Winter Celebrations will take place during the month of December at community resource centers in Rincon, Doña Ana, Organ, Chaparral, Radium Springs, and Del Cerro.

Bransford says the events are well attended each year, with residents bringing a covered dish to share while gifts are distributed to the children. There are also craft activities and visits from Doña Ana County’s 16 Volunteer Fire Districts.

See the schedule below for specific times and locations:

Location Address Date Time
Rincon CRC 220 Baker St. December 1, 2011 4:30 – 6:30 PM
Doña Ana CRC 5745 Ledesma Drive December 3, 2011 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Organ CRC 5880 Second St. December 8, 2011 4:30 – 6:30 PM
Chaparral CRC 190 County line Road December 10, 2011 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Radium Springs CRC 12060 Lindbeck Rd. December 16, 2011 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Del Cerro CRC 180 La Fe Avenue December 17, 2011 2:00 – 4:00 PM

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call Doña Ana County Public Information Communication Specialist Kelly Jameson at (575) 386-4302.