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Neighbors Helping Neighbors During Fires and Floods

By Gina Bonner, ALM Food Pantry, Angel Fire

We live in an amazing community, full of generous souls that rose to the occasion of helping neighbors during their time of need.

Here are some of the stories that come to mind; I’m certain there are others.When the Cook’s Peak wildfire threatened Cimarron, Ute Park, Philmont and other communities, the Moreno Valley High School teachers organized sandwiches, snacks and water donations and delivered them to Cimarron High School for those preparing for evacuation. A local resident parked at Lowe’s Market, accepted community donations, and drove them to Las Vegas before the roads were closed.

The Calf Canyon wildfire quickly merged with the Hermit’s Peak wildfire near Las Vegas to become the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s recorded history.

Tara Chisum quickly organized an Evacuation Station at Chisum Realty so that evacuees could come by and pick up needed food, water and supplies – no questions asked, just a supportive hug. ALM Food Pantry donated nearly 900# of food, including Food4Kids bags. Hundreds of community residents donated food for parents, children and pets, water, diapers, personal hygiene supplies and gift cards for groceries and gas.

The Evacuation Station was moved to Red River Community Center and the Eagle Nest Community Center before returning to Chisum Realty. However, after the Moreno Valley residents were displaced, Tara pivoted away from the physical Evacuation Station and partnered with the ALM Food Pantry to create a GoFundMe page for online donations, donations from local churches earmarked for the fire victims, a $2,500 grant from the Taos Community Foundation, a fund raiser by musicians Kara Mutz and Jimmy Stadler and generous donations from Chisum Realty, Taos County Realtor Association and Home Health Care. Altogether we raised over $31,000 for evacuees. 100% of the funds were dispersed directly to victims who registered at the Evacuation Station.

Members of the Moreno Valley Fire Department went to Mora to support Samaritan’s Purse with moving and cutting trees and assisting homeowners in sifting through the ashes and debris to recover belongings and keepsakes not claimed by the blaze. A part-time Taos Pines resident and rancher donated nearly 100# of ground beef that went to churches feeding hot meals to those impacted in Las Vegas and Mora.

And then the floods came raging over the burn scars. ALM Food Pantry received a $5,000 grant from The Catholic Foundation to help these fire/flood victims and partnered with the Mobile Grocery (MoGro) to provide bulk food and water to Mora Head Start’s walk-in pantry. MoGro is fiscally sponsored by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, who provided a grant to fund well cleaning and disinfection for 23 recipients that reached out to Head Start Mora.

We truly live in an amazing community.

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