The holidays are the ideal time to give back to the community. Finding the right place or way to give your cash, time or goods can be a bit overwhelming, given how many local organizations do great work. Unfortunately, we can't list them all, but here are a few starting points:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico ( gives stockings to the over 700 kids in the program, as well as any of their siblings who care to join. Contact Tashima Wildrose if you'd like to coordinate giving toys for stockings or drop off donations at BBBS' bins in Santa Fe and Los Alamos; all proceeds go to help BBBS continue to match bigs and littles across Northern New Mexico. The Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families ( helps anyone who is experiencing relationship violence, and they can use gift cards to places like Walmart and Target for individual needs all year long. They can also use bus passes, Rail Runner tickets and gifts for mothers. Then there's our beloved local charity kitchen, The Food Depot (, which feeds hungry people all over northern New Mexico and needs turkeys this holiday season. If you can't give the gift of animal protein, $1 will feed four people, and other canned and dry goods are always appreciated, including personal-care items like toothpaste and soap. Plus, they can use volunteer help, so call Viola Lujan (471-1633, ext. 11) to set up a time to come in. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society ( needs blankets and towels for use in kennels and cleanup, as well as large, durable toys that won't be swallowed by unsupervised cats and dogs. Pet food is also appreciated so the shelter can donate it to families who are having trouble feeding their pets. In the tree-hugging vein, the Santa Fe Watershed Association ( protects the Santa Fe River watershed and could use rubber boots of any size (for children or adults) for their in-the-field educational programs. They can also use binoculars, printing supplies, postage stamps, power strips, extension cords, hand trucks/dollies and a waterproof storage shed. If you're in the mood to donate, consider Youth Shelters (, which serves Santa Fe's homeless and at-risk youth, or YouthWorks (, which helps local youth with job-training and educational achievement. Care to donate something more personal? United Blood Services (2801 Rodeo Road, 246-1418) will go out of their way to get you into an appointment. And, speaking of education and after-school programs, don't forget United Way of Santa Fe County (440 Cerrillos Road, Ste. A, 982-2002), which seeks books for parents to read to their children.

Can't decide? Later this month, many more charities come together for the city's third annual Alternative Gift Market, where shoppers can make charitable donations (in varying price ranges) to a host of local and international humanitarian groups.

Santa Fe Alternative Gift Market
De Vargas Center (corner of N Guadalupe St. and Paseo de Peralta)
5-7 pm Friday, Dec. 14; 9 am-8 pm Saturday, Dec. 15; 10 am-6 pm Sunday, Dec. 16

For more information, email:

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