Donation boosts juvenile probation officers’ Thanksgiving meals for families in need

Juvenile probation office prepares Thanksgiving feast for families in need

While the holidays may be a fun, joyous time, it can be tough for families facing financial struggles.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While the holidays may be a fun, joyous time, it can be tough for families facing financial struggles.

Especially if their child got in trouble with the law.

In 2006, the Juvenile Probation Office began serving a Thanksgiving meal for families.

“We do a full-out decoration. We have law enforcement that comes out and they help us serve the meals,” said Suzanne Seitzinger, a chief juvenile probation officer for CYFD District 11.

Since COVID, officers have been sharing food boxes, which draw big donations from the community.

“Our biggest donor is the U.S. Army. We have an Army vet. That is our surveillance officer. She’s been in contact with her commander and they donate a significant amount of money that we can provide so many boxes for these families,” Seitzinger said.

This year, they gave more than $2,000 to the food box project. Now, the office will get to ensure a stable holiday for their families who are facing financial instability.

“The JPOs actually go out and deliver the boxes to the families. These Thanksgiving boxes could be just the only Thanksgiving meal that they’re gonna have, right? So, if we didn’t provide that, then possibly they wouldn’t have a Thanksgiving meal and that just breaks our hearts,” Seitzinger said.

Now for Christmas, there is money left over to do this again – all to strengthen relationships and keep families on track.

“Yes, there are court orders that we have to make sure the youth abide by, but we have to make sure that their basic needs are not met,” Seitzinger said. “We’re here to help them through this difficult period and to see the youth and the families be successful.”

“That is our ultimate goal.”

The office served:

  • 100 families in Bernalillo County with food baskets
  • A non-traditional Thanksgiving meal in the Las Cruces area
  • 26 families in the Farmington area
  • 16 families in the Silver City area in partnership with a local church
  • Thanksgiving activity with 10 kids in the Alamogordo area