Organizations help those in need

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By Tom Hanlon

Every year, joy is brought to children who don’t have the most ideal situation at home.
Each Christmas, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos helps give children in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas, a brighter holiday through the Angel Tree.
The Angel Tree is a Christmas tree set up in the church and is covered with tags listing the requests of children in need of gifts. The parish community members fulfill the tag requests to help families who can’t afford presents for their children.  
This year, 586 children received 1,065 gifts, including 24 bicycles, more than 60 gift cards and one mini iPad, in total equaling more than one ton of presents.  
This is all made possible through the coordination of three different organizations that work with IHM: Sojourners, a homeless advocacy group; Bienvenidos, a food bank in Santa Fe and Children Youth and Family Services Foster Care. All three of these groups help find children who are in need of Christmas gifts.
Sojourners employee Andrea Medina said, “We have clients that we find but we never turn anyone down who comes in. We encourage clients to bring friends who are also in need.” Sojourners is under the umbrella of Life Link, an organization in Santa Fe, focused on helping homeless people and families and improving their lives.  
The Life Link was started in 1987 by Carol Luna and since then has helped thousands of individuals and families who are in need of a better life, to included providing permanent homes for the homeless, jobs and mental health treatment.
“Sojourner has always been successful and very joyful and inspiring to those in need,” Medina said. She explained that the group tells the children that the presents are from Santa Claus, but the kids are not from your average household and are usually so happy to have something for Christmas, that they don’t even think about who the presents come from.
The Angel Tree is set up in the church during the Thanksgiving weekend. The presents are donated by the second week in December. The Parish Youth Group volunteers hours to make the tags for the Angel Tree, sorts and bags the presents and loads the trailer for delivery to the centers in Santa Fe.