Laqueta Chaves wiped tears from her eyes as Eastern New Mexico University students Jenny Morrison and Rachel Schaub carried a laundry basket full of food into her home.
"You guys are so sweet," she said. "Thank you so much."
She placed her arms around Morrison, embracing her in a hug.
Chaves' home was one of 20 in Portales visited by students bearing Thanksgiving baskets Friday afternoon.
Morrison and Schaub were part of the student organization Psyched In, which was helping with the third annual event run by VOICES, a student organization out of the College of Education.
"It definitely helped that we had other organizations pitching in," said VOICES member Natalie Forrest. "This is the first time we reached out to the community to ask for donations. This was a big year."
For VOICES president Sarah Szymonski, the four to seven boxes delivered by the organization in the last two years just wasn't good enough.
She decided instead of collecting from just ENMU faculty and students, the organization would turn to the community to help to increase their number of baskets to 10.
That's when she turned to the psychology's student organization, Psyched In, and ENMU community service organization Circle K for help with the annual fundraiser.
"I was really nervous about that but I told them (other members) we would do 10 baskets because I would personally buy the rest if we fell short," Szymonski said. "That first weekend, we collected so much stuff."
Little did Szymonski know that over the next few weeks, the three student organizations would collect enough food for 20 baskets after asking for donations in front of SuperSave grocery store in Portales.
"I'm ecstatic," she said Friday morning as she grinned at the food scattered all over a classroom in the Education Building. "That first weekend was great. I was driving to SuperSave after every shift to pick up food."
She said students collected more than 250 food items at the grocery store their first weekend.
"This is wonderful," she said. "There's a lot of people in need in Portales and I think it's great that we're getting to help a larger number of them."
Szymonski said organization members took several boxes to Brown and James elementary schools and Portales High School for faculty members to distribute them to families they knew to be in need while the rest went to various families around the community, whose names were submitted from various ENMU faculty.
"Making calls to the families, I've seen some of the situations they are in," Szymonski said. "Out of work or recently divorced with four teenagers."
"There's no way we would have been able to collect this amount without food donations from the community," she added. "We were definitely blessed by the community's overwhelming generosity."