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FARMINGTON — San Juan County churches are working to ensure local families have access to clothes, food and gifts for the holidays.

The Bloomfield United Methodist Church congregation is putting together Christmas boxes of food for 14 families identified by the Bloomfield School District.

Pastor Kathy Potter said the boxes are part of the church's larger food ministry, which includes free meals every week at noon on Mondays. The ministry also includes a food pantry.

“Our food ministry is very important to us,” Potter said, adding that there's a large number of hungry children in the county.

A Feeding America study found that in 2013 the incomes of 24,750 residents in San Juan County indicated they were living with food insecurity, meaning they did not know where their next meal would come from. That's about 19 percent of the county’s residents.

Each of the 14 families the Methodist church feeds this year will receive a 20-pound turkey.

The Bloomfield church is not the only one offering Christmas boxes. First Baptist Church Bloomfield is also participating in the program, and various other local churches also have plans to distributes boxes.

The Catholic parishes of St. Joseph's Church in Aztec and Holy Trinity Church in Flora Vista are once again distributing gifts through the third annual Sharing Tree program. Confidential requests for aid can be submitted at the parish offices through Dec. 17.

After Father Kingsley George-Obilonu suggested a project to help families affected by the recession, the parishes borrowed the idea for the program from Angel Trees, a popular Salvation Army program that provides presents for children.Through Sharing Tree, parishioners buy children clothing and other necessities, rather than expensive items like electronics.

Emily Chavez, who is spearheading this year's Sharing Tree, said people who want to take advantage of the program need to fill out a short application at either of the parish offices, 42 Road 3520 in Flora Vista or 424 N. Mesa Verde Ave. Residents can fill out applications for their children or children of someone they know.

Basic information — without names  — is placed on an ornament on the Sharing Trees at both churches.

"As fast as we can put a little ornament up, they're gone," Chavez said.

 Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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