Northern NM Toy Drive gears up for the holidays

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means many of us are already singing Christmas tunes.

It’s the best time of the year but it can be stressful for some and the need to spread a little holiday cheer is only growing.

That’s the goal behind the massive Northern New Mexico Toy Drive already underway. 

Every year, organizers in Santa Fe put together the toy drive and, this year, they are looking to serve even more children.

Donation boxes are open, wish lists are filling up and there are a couple of events this weekend to get you in the giving spirit.

“This is always a stressful time for a lot of families if they don’t have the money,” Santa Fe Fire Chief Brian Moya said.

As long as there’s something to make these holidays special for everyone.

“I know it may seem like it’s only a toy, but we’re working with a very vulnerable part of the population,” said Lance Eaton with Exit Realty. “Often, that toy may be the only toy this child receives during the year and it really lets them know that someone is listening and someone really cares.”

Eaton said they’re working hard to make this year’s toy drive bigger and better than ever, as they’re teaming up with partners like the City of Santa Fe, Los Alamos National Labs and Meow Wolf.

“We’re giving that little smile,” Moya said. “We’re giving someone the ability to have the stress relieved from saying, ‘I couldn’t afford to have anything to give to my kids this Christmas this year,’ by giving back. Our guys are just appreciative of us when we’re going on the worst times, and sometimes we can give it to them at the best time.”

This year, they’re hoping to serve more than 2,500 kids in more than a dozen organizations:

  • Casa Familia Homeless Women’s and Children’s Shelter
  • Children in San Miguel and Mora County affected by the wildfires
  • Consuelo’s Place Shelter at Midtown
  • Santa Fe Indigenous Center
  • Santo Domingo Social Services
  • Children Youth and Families Department in both Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico
  • Presbyterian Family Health
  • Villa Therese Clinic
  • Jemez Pueblo Social Services
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico
  • Family Strengths Network Grandparents Group
  • Face Program in the Kha’p’o Community School
  • Barrios Unidos
  • Las Cumbres
  • St. Elizabeth’s Homeless Teen Shelter
  • 100% San Miguel
  • Portfolio Resident Services

“This year, in particular with the fires in northern New Mexico, we’ve added San Miguel and Mora counties to this toy drive to reach out and hopefully help those directly impacted,” Eaton said.

With 30 dropboxes around northern New Mexico, they’re hoping even more New Mexicans rally together.

“We try to get them out two weeks before Christmas so the parents can have them ready to give to their kids,” Moya said.

It doesn’t take much to make a really big impact.

“Just by being able to give that back to somebody and knowing that that one person could have a better Christmas, just by us giving them some like a stuffed animal, or Legos, something we had in the office, I think that is tremendous. People don’t realize how important those little things can be to somebody,” Moya said.

You don’t have to physically be in northern New Mexico to give. You can shop on Amazon and get those gifts to the right people.

The organizers are kicking off the holidays on Thanksgiving weekend with various events:

  • Nov. 25, 3 p.m. Tree Lighting Event on the Santa Fe Plaza with Mrs. And Mr. Claus. Attendees are encouraged to bring a gift to “Fill The Fire Truck” on the plaza.
  • Nov. 26, 1-3 p.m. Giving Tree Lighting at Devargas Mall, in Santa Fe, with refreshments, caroling, and lighting of the Trees. Santa will be there with gifts to give away as well.
  • Dec. 9, 7-10 p.m. Ugly Sweater Party at Bathtub Row in Los Alamos. The price of Admission will be a toy.