United Way hosts Blessing Tree

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

United Way members are striving for one final push during the holiday season to raise money for programs and they want to do it through a “Blessing Tree” at the Roosevelt County Courthouse.

The United Way of Eastern New Mexico helps fund programs which help youth, domestic violence victims and distribution of food to the needy in Roosevelt and Curry counties.

The Roosevelt County Blessing Tree will be up on the south entrance to the Roosevelt County Courthouse on the square from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Erin Burch, executive director of the United Way of Eastern New Mexico, said the idea came up through brainstorming among the members. Burch said there will be 15-foot by 17-foot poster of a Christmas tree.

She said people can purchase an ornament and write a blessing for anyone on the ornament. The ornament can be placed on the tree. Each ornament costs $20 and proceeds go to the United Way fund for Roosevelt County.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Don Thomas, a Unitd Way of Eastern New Mexico member, said. Thomas will be helping with the ornaments on Tuesday. “I have been really blessed in this town. It gives Portales residents the opportunity to give back to the community.”

“I hope it becomes a real success,” Thomas said. “It (the ornament) allows them to write a message to a friend, family or the group they are helping. It’s getting very close to Christmas and people can help out those programs.”

Burch said because of the high traffic volume in the courthouse area, the front of the courthouse was selected. She said the visibility of the banner will help to draw people in.

“The Portales square is a perfect location for it,” Burch said. “It is the heart of the city and there is a lot of visibility.”

Burch commended the job Todd Morris, Valencia Elementary principal and Portales School District members did to raise money for the United Way. Morris headed up fund-raising within the district and through payroll deductions, faculty members were able to raise more than $9,000. Last year, they raised $3,000.

“We were able to make presentations at all of the schools,” Burch said. “The faculty could hear about it from us and we were able to answer any questions.”

Burch said currently the United Way of Eastern New Mexico has raised $302,551. According to Burch, the United Way of Eastern New Mexico members have reached 71 percent of their $482,005 goal. Burch said the deadline for fund-raising has been extended to Jan. 13.

She said money raised from payroll deductions from Eastern New Mexico University and Dillard’s has not been tabulated, yet.

United Way of Eastern New Mexico helps fund more than a dozen non-profit organizations in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Money raised helps the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, CASA/FCCS, Community Service Center, Girl Scouts, Life Saver Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, the Hartley House-Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence, Meals on Wheels, Ministerial Alliance and the Roosevelt County Literacy Council.