Partnerships are made, not born.
And this new one, between Galloping Grace Youth Ranch and Albertsons, is a beauty.
For the rest of this month, shoppers at Alberstons’ three Rio Rancho stores and the one on old Coors, just south of NM 528, can make donations of $1, $3 or $5 to GGYR, and Albertsons will match that donation, up to $5,000.
That amount should help defray the approximate $8,000 worth of fencing recently stolen from the ranch, on Sea Road, just north of 14th Avenue.
“We had, maybe two weeks ago — and it happens fairly frequently at the ranch — (an incident). Whoever it was cut the fence, drove in on ATVs or a small truck, and came in and stole about 75 of our big fencing panels, that cost about $100 apiece,” GGYR co-owner Max Wade said. “They took them out (from the property) to a larger truck with a trailer on it, so they’re gone, and they took some other miscellaneous things.
“What Albertsons has done is fantastic — they stepped up here and did this matching $5,000 donation,” Wade said.
The financial help is merely the latest perk of this partnership.
Josh Staples, store director at Albertsons on Southern Boulevard, said, “We started this program, Max and I … in early January. We ran into each other. I saw that he had some great things going on and he had a need for some food (for animals at the ranch) and I had a need for getting some food out of our trash compactor.
“That’s kind of how we came up with this: If we could create a way to have it picked up and distributed and handled on our part, and it didn’t have much of an impact on us having to do that — we’re just not set up to do distribution and those sort of things — then it was something we could make work, and we have so far,” Staples said, noting his four daughters — ages 7, 8, 9 and 10 — have enjoyed their visits to GGYR.
“Fresh produce and salad bar trim and scraps, that we chop up and make fruit salads with — anything that we can’t sell to the customer, that doesn’t pass our quality standards anymore — a dented apple, something like that, (goes to GGYR),” Staples said.
He said the pickups, made by GGYR part-time employee/volunteer Frank Orcutt, net about 1,000 pounds a day for the food recovery program; Wade said he estimates the total load since Jan. 1 to be about 65 tons. “It goes right into his program with the youth,” he said.
It’s then sorted and fed to the animals.
All four area stores — including the one near Enchanted Hills, on NM 528 south of US 550, are participating in the scraps pickups.
It is only an example of one partnership involving GGYR and Albertsons: GGYR has a strong partnerships with Grainger and Roadrunner Food Bank, not to mention the Chickens in the Classroom program launched in the spring in Rio Rancho Public Schools’ elementary buildings; and Albertsons has partnered with St. Felix Pantry and Storehouse.
The quantity of food from Albertsons sure keeps the kids busy, as a visit to the ranch any morning of the week will confirm.
About 75-100 kids a day visit GGYR and “They come for a day or they might come for three days in a row,” Wade said, happy to indoctrinate these typically urban kids into a rural environment.
The youngsters, ranging in age from pre-K to high school and coming from as far away as Socorro, get an indoctrination session, where they learn the No. 1 goal is to have fun.
Secondarily, they are told, animal safety is important, and they’ll get a chance to pet a pig and hold a chicken.
“They help us feed the animals, which is a major educational opportunity,” Wade said, downplaying his role at the ranch. “We get the food we get from Albertsons, the junior leaders dump it on tables, and the participating kids put the food into wagons and such, and we talk about what all that food is, why we have it, how much we collected, and they participate in taking that food out to the animals.
“So they’ll take it out, place it down there and stay until we open the gate and let the animals in, so they get a hands-on (opportunity),” Wade said. “They see all the animals eating and what they like the best. And they work the gratitude station, where they thank our partners, like Albertsons; then, there are different stations — they learn about chickens, go to the goat pen, then hang out with the horses.
“Then they get about an hour of free-play time — the mud pit, mud pie kitchen, go back and visit the animals some more.”
And, yes, all this rural fun is free: “They’ve just got to get there,” Wade said.
You can find out more at ggyr.org or Facebook.