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Girl’s plea leads to Walmart gifts for homeless vets


As part of teacher Jaime Alvarez’s “Passion Project,” Lillian, a second grader in Alvarez’s class at J. Paul Taylor Academy (JPTA) in Las Cruces, wrote a letter to a local Walmart store manager asking for a donation to help homeless veterans.

As a result of that letter, Valley Drive in Las Cruces Walmart Store Manager Arnold Diaz donated a $200 gift card and 100 blankets to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) and delivered them earlier this month.

But Walmart’s giving to MVCH didn’t stop there.

Diaz suggested to MVCH Executive Director Nicole Martinez that she apply for a Walmart store grant. Martinez did so, and MVCH received a $4,000 donation and the involvement of 11 Walmart stores in southern New Mexico. Store managers and other staff brought donations of tents and tarps to MVCH, 999 W. Amador Ave., on Dec. 10.

“We at MVCH are so impressed by how this project has snowballed into an amazing response to helping veterans living on the streets,” Martinez said. “Lillian is a leader in compassion and action, and Walmart managers both local and statewide are champions in their support for this effort. We are truly grateful for JPTA's educational and impactful learning opportunity, to Lillian for leading this project and to Walmart for responding to the call.”

“We are committed to giving back and taking care of local communities where our customers and associates shop, live and work,” said Walmart Southern New Mexico Market Manager Tim Walsh, who was also at MVCH for the donation presentation. Walsh said the 11 southern New Mexico Walmart stores “got together and combined resources to donate to MVCH at the request of a very special little girl who wrote one of our local stores requesting donations. We feel strongly about helping this organization because it does so much to help our veterans in need, as well as homeless individuals in general. We are honored to have been given the opportunity to participate in Mr. Alvarez’s passion project and are inspired by the children in his class to do more for each other every day.”

“It is an incredible show of generosity by the Walmart stores,” said Lillian’s grandfather, Craig Fenske, who requested his granddaughter’s surname not be published.

“Walmart and the Walmart Foundation help communities through donations of cash grants, as well as through donations of products to organizations that help individuals and families live better lives,” Walsh said.