This holiday season I am especially grateful for being able to volunteer with a charity called Los Ojos De La Familia (LODLF). LODLF was founded in December 2009 by local business professionals. It is volunteer-based and is made up of a diverse group of people. They have one main mission and that is to give back to the community.

They give financial support to individuals in need who apply or are nominated. While those who require financial assistance to stay in the education system take priority, the organization really helps anyone who might need a little bit of help making ends meet. They offer general assistance, emergency assistance, general scholarship, HOPE scholarship, holiday gift basket, athletic youth development group, and financial assistance to first responders.

I got to help out with the delivery of the holiday baskets. This year, LODLF delivered 550 baskets in the Albuquerque area and 200 baskets in Arizona. The baskets had 62 lbs. of food, household staples, and some families even received an additional bag of toys for the children in the home.

This event really relies on volunteers to assemble and deliver the baskets as well as donations and sponsorships from companies and community members. I contacted the group at the beginning of December to see if they could use any extra hands. I was emailed directions closer to the event and asked one of my good friends to join me on the drive.

When I got there, coffee, hot chocolate, donuts, and burritos were provided for everyone to eat. It was my first year helping out, so I didn’t know too many people, but everyone was so friendly, and it was clear we were all in the holiday spirit. The first hour was for us to eat and socialize.

After a while, they started calling driving groups. We headed to the car and we had three huge bins of food and three large bags of toys put in the trunk. It was really cool because we got to see the nomination applications. All three of our applications seemed to have been written by a community member close to the family that could see they really needed a little extra help this holiday season. There was a short bio about the family that honestly drew on my heartstrings.

Volunteering at this event was unlike anything I have done before. Not only was it awesome to know we helped 550 families total but reading about the families’ stories than actually meeting them and seeing how much these baskets meant for their home was something else.

 Once we devised a plan for the best route to take to all three homes, we started on our way. The homes were close together and the traveling was not bad at all. We were so excited and touched to have been able to help out this organization and those families.

The charity has various events throughout the year and accepts all sorts of donations. Their main goal is to help those who would have the potential to improve their lives, the lives of their children, and the community. The entire event only took about two hours of my time which was completely worth the impact it had on the families, the organization, and myself.

I hope you all are able to give back in some small way this holiday season.

Anna