Aztec holiday drive in need of donations
FARMINGTON — The Aztec Fire Department’s annual holiday food and toy drive is down in donations in the days leading up to Christmas.
AFD Chief Kevin Simpson said the drive has received about 60 percent of what is normally donated. The drive is organized through the Aztec Municipal School District, and recipients are typically identified through the schools.
The drive collects toys and food items for families in need, and the fire department and Santa deliver the goods on Christmas Eve, Simpson said. The holiday drive has been an AFD tradition for approximately 40 years.
Simpson said there could be several factors why donations are down this year.
“Part of it, I think this year, is everything that’s happened with the shooting and everything,” Simpson said.
Local families likely have donated a significant amount to various community causes in the aftermath of the Dec. 7 shooting at Aztec High School that resulted in the death of two 17-year-old students and the 21-year-old shooter, Simpson said.
“There’s been so many donations to the families (of the victims), and people can only give so much,” Simpson said, adding that the economy “is just not real good. Unfortunately, when the economy’s bad, our donations are down some, but the need really goes up, so it’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
The drive is still going, however. Simpson said the fire department will accept donations of new, unwrapped toys and nonperishable food items until Saturday evening, and donations can be dropped off at the Aztec City Hall, the San Juan County Fire Operations Center or the Style Exchange salon in Aztec.
The annual holiday drive usually benefits approximately 150 Aztec families, including some 450 kids each year, Simpson said.