Charity, cleanup events fill weekend

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Javan McCord, 2, of Clovis picks out a pumpkin Saturday at the Altrusa pumpkin patch on the east side of North Plains Mall. Everyone who brought in three nonperishable items were allowed to pick out a pumpkin. Food items benefited Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico. According to Javan’s parents, Tamara and Michael McCord, they come every year to donate and to get a few pumpkins.

Benna Sayyed

Clovis was full of activity Saturday with a variety of events ranging from spiffing up the city to feeding the less fortunate and raising cash for clean water in Kenya.

Three events with large turnouts were the Toss No Mas clean-up drive, the 20th annual Altrusa Pumpkin Patch food drive, and Water Walk 2011.

Toss No Mas was held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and according to Theresa Bullocks, administrative assistant for City of Clovis Parks and Recreation, had 197 volunteers and 25 city workers pick up litter around town.

Held twice a year in conjunction with New Mexico Clean and Beautiful, Toss No Mas gathers volunteers from Cannon Air Force Base and other city groups to clean the city.

“The camaraderie is good. The base is a big player so Cannon gets to come out and interact with the city people and they kind of get to see Clovis in a better light. It just brings everybody together for a common cause,” said Bullocks.

Chris Chace, director of Cub Scout Pack 411 Webelos, collected garbage with his wife Claire Burroughes and son James on the eastside of Hillcrest Park along 14th Street.

“We’re going to have a tidier town so people passing through or just getting here are going to say the town is cleaner and maybe they’ll want to stay a bit longer,” said Chace.

Chace said Toss No Mas helped Scouts earn merit badges, an essential task to becoming a scout.

While some folks worked to beautify the city, others donated food items at North Plains Mall and Wal-Mart and got to pick out a pumpkin for their charity. Food donations were given to the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.

Parents and their kids made their way through a winding pumpkin maze near the east entrance of the mall between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to find the ideal pumpkin for their home.

“The pumpkin patch gets people involved. They like donating to the food bank. The food bank needs food right now. It is the time of year when there are a lot of people in need,” said Kathy Travis, president of Altrusa Club of Clovis, a branch of Altrusa International.

“The kids really enjoy getting their perfect pumpkin. Some find their perfect pumpkin in a minute and some take 20 minutes,” said Travis.

The Altrusa Pumpkin Patch food drive is the primary annual food drive for the food bank.

Travis said that every child participating receives an Altrusa coloring book and a locally grown pumpkin.

Other Clovis youth marched with adults in Water Walk 2011 where participants carried empty jugs to Greene Acres Lake, filled them, and carried them back to Trinity United Methodist Church.

According to Angie Robbs, who orchestrated the event with her husband Justin, about 65 participants helped raise $2,800, which put the Robbs closer to their goal of $10,000 to build a well in Kenya. The Robbs now have $7,500 of the $10,000 needed to dig the well.

“We’re thrilled today. The support in this community is like amazing and the turnout was more than we can even imagine so it was highly successful,” said Robbs.

Robbs said the youngest volunteers were ages 3 and 4 and the oldest were close to 70.

“The kids thought the water was very gross. They couldn’t imagine drinking it so hopefully it (water walk) impacted them,” said Robbs.

The Robbs are planning to hold the next water walk this spring in Rio Rancho. Angie said they are considering making the water walk an annual event in Clovis.

“I hope that it made an impact on people and made them appreciate what we have here and kind of broadened their frame of mind a little to think about what people are facing in other parts of the world,” said Robbs.