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Lend a Helping Hand to neighbors in need

Operation Helping Hand is underway for the 2009 Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

This is the 20th year for this organization to assist local seniors and families with children with holiday needs including food, clothing and toys.

Local seniors and families with children can sign up for assistance for Thanksgiving meals at the Department of Human Services by 4 p.m. today, Thursday, Nov. 12.

The deadline to request assistance for Christmas food, toys and clothing is Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

Please note Operation Helping Hand is a program run by community volunteers and is not run by the Archuleta County Department of Human Services.

Those in the Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County community who wish to help those less fortunate this season may do so in several ways.

Food donations are accepted at both City Market locations. Look for donation containers near the entrances of the stores. Nonperishable food items are gratefully accepted to use in preparation of food boxes. Choose foods that your own family would enjoy at the holiday season to donate. We suggest stuffing, gravy, canned vegetables, and fruit or gelatin.

To assist in purchasing perishable items, monetary donations can be made to Operation Helping Hand and deposited to account no. 6240417424 at Wells Fargo Bank or account no. 20014379 at Bank of the San Juans. Donations may also be mailed to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

Or, you can purchase a City Market gift card and mail to Operation Helping Hand at P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, or drop off to the front desk at The Pagosa Springs SUN.

Volunteers are posting requested items on paper stockings at both City Markets on Saturday. These requests range from socks and underwear to household items such as blankets and cookware, to toys. To fill one of these requests, remove a stocking from the board in City Market, then purchase and wrap your gift, attaching the stocking to your package so the gift will be delivered to the correct individual or family. Take your gift to one of the drop off locations listed on the back of the paper stocking by Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The Pagosa Springs Area Association of REALTORS® has teamed up with Operation Helping Hand to sponsor “Bucks for Bikes.” This program works to purchase new bikes for less fortunate members of our community. All donations for this part of the program need to be received by the association no later than Nov. 20. Your check should be made payable to “Bucks for Bikes” and be mailed or delivered to PSAAR at 190 Talisman Drive, No. D-5, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. For further information, contact Lonnie Patison at 731-1370 or Jan Santopietro at 731-4016.

Questions about Operation Helping Hand can be directed to the message line, 731-3735. A volunteer will return your call.

Other facets of the Operation Helping Hand program will be outlined in upcoming issues of The Pagosa Springs SUN.

Civic organizations and church groups have united to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure as many holiday season needs and wishes as possible can be accommodated. Together we can make a difference in our community.