LL fire department delivers food

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Boxes of Thanksgiving dinner turkeys and other food items were delivered Monday by the Los Lunas Fire Department to families who might otherwise go without.

Members of the fire department collected most of the food, and the deliveries were made by career and volunteer firefighters.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Volunteer and career firefighters from the Los Lunas Fire Department provide boxes of food and turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner to members of the community.

“I don’t know what I’d do without these guys,” said Kathleen Hains, a wheelchair-bound Los Lunas resident who lost her husband six years ago.

Hains is also a cancer survivor, and medical bills have made it hard for her to make ends meet, she said. Her daughter, Elaine Smith, is staying with her while recovering from a car crash, and her sister, Debbie Padilla, whose husband died in 2009, is staying with Hains, too.

The fire department has been delivering food boxes during the holidays for close to 20 years, said Vivian Lujan, office specialist. Lujan went around to different stores asking for donations of non-perishable food items, and some residents also donated to the effort.

Some employees donate to a fund shared between the fire department and the Los Lunas Police Department for holiday dinners.

This year, Walmart Distribution Center also made a donation, said Fire Chief Lito Chavez.

But the number of referrals for deliveries almost doubled this year, and the department was only able to supply 46 boxes.

The elderly and the sick are the priority, Chavez said. Most of the referrals come from emergency calls, and requests are made through word of mouth.

“We get a lot of referrals for the elderly and others down on their luck,” Chavez said. “The economy isn’t doing as well as it should be.”

Originally, the program was started by the village Community Development Program, but when they got overwhelmed with the numbers of people in need, they asked the fire department to help. Since then, the fire department has been responsible for the program.

“It’s very rewarding and fulfilling,” Chavez said. “The ‘God bless you’s’ and the ‘thank you’s,’ the smile of the kids when they see the food come in. There’s always people less fortunate than you are.”

About four or five vehicles go to the stores early in the morning to pick up the perishable items, and then the department members load several trucks to make deliveries within the village limits.

A few families come to the station to pick up a box, but a lot of the people don’t drive or don’t have transportation, Chavez said.

“We try to help as many as we can,” he said. “We want to make their holidays a little brighter, if we can. It’s residents helping residents.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.