It might be hard to imagine a child waking up on Christmas morning without a single toy under the tree, but for many families here in New Mexico, that’s the unfortunate reality.

Luckily, for the past seven years, Los Ojos de la Familia, a grassroots movement that works to provide New Mexicans with educational development and quality of life assistance, has made the holidays a little brighter for these families.

This year, the UNM Division of Student Affairs and BeKind UNM have again teamed up with Los Ojos de la Familia to collect toys for families in need. Over 150 toys were recently donated by Lobos then given to the nonprofit.

“This year we will be providing over 400 families with baskets,” says Patricia Ruiz, Los Ojos de la Familia board member. “The baskets weigh over 70 pounds and include both food and toys for the children.”

Los Ojos relies on the generosity of community members and other organizations such as The University of New Mexico to ensure that their drive is successful each year.  

“Many of these families are referred to us by their child’s school principal or counselor—the people who really see the needs of these children,” Ruiz said. “This year 80 percent of the families who will receive the baskets are families with children.”

Throughout the year, the BeKind UNM team holds various events aimed at spreading kindness not only throughout the UNM community but also the city.

Kim Kloeppel, chair of the BeKind UNM committee, encourages everyone to spread kindness and pay it forward. 

“It makes your holiday a bit brighter knowing that you are helping put a smile on a child’s face,” she says. “Showing kindness during the holidays is especially important to help those in need.”

The biggest event sponsored by the BeKind team is the celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week annually in February. The 2018 celebration is Feb. 11-17 and will have several fun, free events including the popular Kindness Carnival which will take place on Monday, Feb. 12.

Visit the BeKind UNM initiative and UNM Student Affairs websites for more information. 

And for information on Los Ojos de la Familia, visit their website.