Faced with the worst poverty rate in the nation, one New Mexico nonprofit organization is trying to make a difference.
The Albuquerque-based Locker #505 demonstrated its ability to channel public support for low-income children by hosting a Halloween Carnival clothing drive at the Sheraton Hotel in Albuquerque.
Some 300 attendees were dressed in costumes, eating food, dancing, and playing games. Organizers steered patrons to a haunted house while local businesses awaited in nearby rooms to dole out candy to young trick-or-treaters. The haunted house cost a fee or a clothing donation to enter. A ballroom featured other local businesses with interactive fun booths for children.
“This is my second year attending the Sheraton event… It’s nice to keep the kids somewhere safe, get lots of candy, and stay entertained,” said Jeanette Grief, a mother who attended the carnival with her children.
Locker #505 caters to children in need of clothing. The organization provides children, ages kindergarten to 12th grade, with a minimum of two outfits, including socks and underwear.
Locker #505 founder and director, Kim Kerschen, says she’s happy to provide children with such a basic need.. “We have seen more than 470 students so far this year and typically see close to 1000 kids a year,” Kerschen said. “The students that we see are in tremendous need and at times it is heartbreaking.”
“Kids are the future and they should be one of our top priorities in all areas,” Kerschen said…” I have to say, it makes me sad that we have so many children in need.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico has the highest child poverty rate in the nation.
“It’s not shocking, I believe that… I have four kids, it’s a lot of work and I understand it’s very expensive,” said Grief.
Talkpoverty.org states that New Mexico’s population is over two million and of those, over 400-thousand people are in poverty. And 29.9 percent of those in poverty are children. Mississippi comes in at second place with 29.4 percent. Nationally, there are 40.6 million people living in poverty.