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Editorial: In this season, give everything but grief

As we enter the holiday season it is extremely appealing to go full-on Grinch, isn’t it?

The pandemic is entering month nine, and while infection numbers in our state are trending in the right direction, they are still frighteningly high. Tens of thousands of New Mexicans have lost their jobs and, without federal action, will lose their unemployment at the end of the year. Many face eviction and/or back rent they have no way of covering. Lines at the local food bank have increased exponentially in recent weeks. We just came off an election that, although over, continues to rip our families, communities and our country in half. And on the most basic level of human levels, hoarding has raised its ugly head, with toilet paper once again in short supply.

But.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

And we certainly have challenge and controversy to spare.

So rather than hunkering down to send an irate comment to the last social media post that ticked you off, or heading out for an errand or meeting that is not even close to essential to risk your health and others’, how about focusing outward rather than inward? And giving what you can?

Give cash, time or goods

For the more fortunate among us, Tuesday is officially Giving Tuesday, and charities local, statewide, national and global are depending on the kindness of repeat benefactors as well as strangers to help them help others. According to givingtuesday.org, the 8-year-old movement has raised $1.97 billion in the United States alone. Find your favored organization’s website and “donate” button, or find a new passion at the Giving Tuesday website.

Don’t have a favorite charity yet or the time to sort through the many deserving ones? United Way of Central New Mexico not only can direct your dollars to a specific charity, it has its Community Impact Fund as well as a COVID-19 Recovery Fund that target donations to a group of charities that focus on family stability and education, as well as needs during the pandemic. Information is at uwcnm.org and (505) 247-3671.

Want to provide something even more tangible? Roadrunner Food Bank welcomes not only cash donations but volunteer hours and food donations from individuals, community groups, grocery stores, growers, food manufacturers and virtually everyone else who wants to fight hunger in New Mexico. Through economies of scale and leveraging just $1 can provide up to five meals. Or you can help prep food for distribution in the warehouse, help at distribution sites in the community, or log on and help connect folks in need with food assistance sites from the comfort and safety of your own home.

And non-perishable items ranging from canned goods to boxed staples to jars of peanut butter and jelly mean fewer New Mexicans go to bed hungry. More information is at rrfb.org and (505) 247-2052.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office partnered with the N.M. Coalition of Community Foundations to create the All Together New Mexico Fund to help address the many needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members include the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Southern New Mexico organizations, and they work with the greater philanthropic community to make grants available to tackle food, shelter, physical and mental health, and childcare needs. Donate at alltogethernm.org.

The city of Albuquerque’s Department of Senior Affairs has seen a 114% increase in meals served since the start of the pandemic and is looking for donations of paper towels, laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo/conditioner, body soap, lotion, hand sanitizer, pet food, personal hygiene products, snacks (low-sodium/sugar-free), shelf-stable food, adult briefs, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and deodorant to help homebound seniors. For more information call (505) 764-6400.

In addition, through a multi-agency partnership the city is housing 630 homeless people – more than ever before. Even more capacity is needed, and donations to OneAlbuquerque.org will help make that happen. And if you have the time to volunteer (or are a group that needs some), cabq.gov/abq-volunteers can hook you up.

These charities are a snapshot of the many deserving groups in our state that are working hard to make life a little better for our fellow New Mexicans. Find a cause or a need that means something to you, and there is likely a group that will help you help others. (And of course you should make sure your gift goes to a legitimate charity that ensures the bulk of its gifts go to its cause.)

Especially patience and kindness

But let’s say you are one of our fellow New Mexicans hit hard by the pandemic and economic downturn. That you are barely getting by and have nothing to spare.

Au contraire.

Because whether you find yourself on the giving or receiving end of the charity season equation, we can all give time, patience, a kind word, a nod.

Yes, everyone’s stress level is through the roof. So are worry and fear. But we can each take a deep breath and step aside to let someone less-able-bodied go first. Take our foot off the gas and let someone into traffic. Ask the beleaguered clerks how they are holding up in these crazy times and say thanks for working to keep those shelves stocked as the locusts descend. Tell the medical, fire, police and emergency medical personnel thanks for running toward problems instead of away, especially in a global pandemic.

And all while wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, sanitizing our hands and limiting contact to what’s truly essential.

Because long after this election is over, and long after this pandemic has a vaccine and a treatment, what will remain is how we treated each other “at times of challenge and controversy.”

Let’s make it count.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.





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