LANL employees give back to the community

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Holidays > Close to 1,100 gifts for needy collected in annual drive

By The Staff

The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation has had a busy year, but took a little time to celebrate last week as some of those who benefit from its work stopped by.
The LANL Community Programs Office hosted an open house, an annual affair, for northern New Mexico residents and others who wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
“We like to look at ourselves as a way to reach the community,” said Carole Rutten, deputy director at the CPO. “This has special meaning to us, building morale.”
On the day of the open house, those stopping by included some of the direct beneficiaries of LANL’s generosity. That included the Ohkay Owingeh’s Boys and Girls Club, which sent a delegation to collect toys and other holiday donations to the kids the club serves.
“This fulfilled a lot of wishes for us,” said club representative Maggie David.
The club, located on the reservation, includes about 60 kids between the ages of 5 and 13, many of them who were in need this holiday season.
Immediately following their pick-up at the CPO, members of the Ohkay Owingeh club were already preparing a Christmas celebration to distribute the donated gifts.
Michael Martinez of LANL was one of the chief organizers of this year’s holiday drive. He said that employees donated nearly 1,100 gifts to those who needed a little extra cheer this season.
“It’s very successful,” Martinez said. “The lab employees make a difference.”
One of the most popular requests this season, as it often is, was bicycles, and there were plenty of those donated this season — spanning the width of a warehouse to hold them all.
Martinez said the LANL Foundation partnered with 17 different organizations in Los Alamos, Sandoval and Rio Arriba counties.
Just prior to the big holiday gift drive, LANL Foundation coordinated a food drive which collected enough food and monetary donations for about 35,000 meals to those who needed them.
LANL’s Ed Vigil said the food drive got some significant donations from local retailers, including Smith’s, the Los Alamos Co-Op and Lowe’s grocery store in Española, as well as what was donated from employees and community members.
It wasn’t just food that was collected either.
There were lots of requests for pet food and personal care items and even blankets.
Among the other LANL Foundation projects is a backpack drive which helps kids heading back to school with school supplies.
“For myself, I enjoy doing this,” Martinez said. “This is not a job to me. We have a really good, strong team. They’re very good on all ends. There’s a lot of need out there to help individuals and organizations.”
There were plenty of goodies for those dropping by the open house and plenty of folks happy to meet those who were benefitting from LANL’s generosity.
“Today is really a culmination about our employees’ giving,” Rutten said. “They’ve given their time, their talents and their money. Really, it’s a celebration about what we get to do for northern New Mexico.”