Author Archives: Annemarie Ciepiela Henton
On May 2, my heart sank when I saw the Albuquerque Journal headline “Children May Lose Free School Meals.” It reminded me that unfortunately, hunger is a very real issue in our state and one that threatens our community’s future. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2014 report, New Mexico is the most food-insecure state in the country when it comes to children. More than 380,000 people are at risk of hunger, and what’s worse is that 150,000 of them are children. Almost 30% or one in three children are at risk of hunger. These aren’t statistics that bode well for our schools, health systems or local economy.
Like we needed another reason to love Chili’s® Grill and Bar: from Feb. 17-20, all Chili’s locations in New Mexico will donate 15% of their net sales to Roadrunner Food Bank as part of their Chili’s Give Back Days for Hunger. It’s easy to participate – all you have to do is show up and bring your appetite. Be sure you mention why you are there. You can either bring in the flier or mention to your server that you’re there to participate in the Give Back Days for Hunger, and the restaurants will take care of the rest. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a lighter heart.
‘Tis the season for generosity and celebration – a time where we’re reminded that little acts of kindness make a big difference. What better way to spread good cheer than by helping those in need and donating to the charities that take care of them. Roadrunner Food Bank is one such charity, working diligently to stretch your charitable gifts. For every dollar donated, the food bank is able to provide 5.1 meals to hungry men, women and children in New Mexico. The food bank will be even more important to our community in 2014, when the level of need is expected to rise. With generous support from many local businesses and their employees, Roadrunner will be able to kick the new year off on the right foot. One great example of a local company taking big steps to help alleviate hunger in New Mexico is Lovelace Health Plan. Lovelace has committed to doubling any new gift to the food bank this holiday season up to $33,000. To put this in perspective, Lovelace’s generosity will make it possible for Roadrunner to distribute up to 168,300 meals. Consider taking advantage of programs like this, where you can help us double the impact to fight hunger and poverty. What’s great is that your year-end generosity could be the gift that keeps on giving. Not only will you play a major role in feeding hungry people – you may get a tax deduction, too. To help taxpayers plan their year-end giving, the Internal Revenue Service offers the following reminders: Keep good records and receipts. To deduct any charitable donation of money, regardless of amount, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Contributions are deductible in the year made. Thus, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2013 count for 2013. This is true even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2014. Also, checks count for 2013 as long as they are mailed in 2013. Only donations to qualified organizations are tax-deductible. (Roadrunner Food Bank is a qualified organization. You can check the Exempt Organization Select Check, a searchable online database available on IRS.gov, to make sure.) In general, an individual who itemizes deductions may deduct contributions to most charitable organizations up to 50% of his or her adjusted gross income computed without regard to net operating loss carrybacks. Individuals who are age 70 ½ or older can direct their required maximum distribution from IRAs to be paid directly to a qualified charity, reducing their taxable income. (For more information, visit the IRS website.) As you enjoy the holidays and wrap up your business affairs for 2013, please consider including the Food Bank in your end-of-year giving plan. Thousands of hungry people in our state will be more grateful than you will ever know. Annemarie Ciepiela Henton is a volunteer who serves on the Food Bank’s Communications Committee.
Because he lives in Toronto and it’s expensive to text or talk on the phone, my uncle writes me letters. How nice it is to walk out to the mailbox and see my name on an envelope that isn’t a bill of some sort. What’s even better is the thrill I get from slipping a note into the mail, knowing he’ll get it in a few days. Who knew old-fashioned snail mail could still be so exciting? Buying a book of stamps and sending my uncle letters is a tiny blip on my budget radar. In fact, I often buy them at the grocery store at the same time I’m overindulging on food for a new recipe or spending too much money on an imported bottle of wine just because I like the way the label looks. In those moments it’s easy to be wasteful and forget that nearly 17 million children in the United States will probably go without food today.
Every Feb. 14, we’re bombarded with a barrage of advertisements in celebration of what my husband calls “Amateur Day.” Storefronts boast pink and red decorations, children exchange candy and sweet notes with classmates and bouquets of flowers start popping up in coworkers’ offices. It’s the one day where we all pause to connect with the people we love. But when I think of the word “love,” I don’t necessarily associate it with a dozen red roses or my body weight in chocolate. It’s a powerful word that communicates how I feel about my family, my dog, my friends and my community. It explains how I feel about snowboarding and nachos. And it describes what motivates me to be a better person and help people I don’t even know. It hurts my heart to know that there are people right here in my neighborhood that will be spending Valentine’s Day trying to figure out how to feed their children dinner. It makes me sad to think of the elementary school children with hungry bellies who won’t get to enjoy holidays the way that I always have. Eating is such an enjoyable event that we often forget is a luxury for some people in our community. I keep a thank you note on my office wall from a Roadrunner Food Bank event from a child that says, “My mom lost her job and we couldn’t buy food. Thank you for helping us so that we can have breakfast.” It’s a reminder that little acts of love really do make a difference. What I appreciate most about Roadrunner is that it can take donations, no matter how small, and turn them into nourishment for people in need. It’s great that there are programs designed to meet the specific needs of seniors, of children and of families in crisis. There are so many ways for volunteers and donors to help Roadrunner share the love. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, let my first declaration of love be to the people who make Roadrunner Food Bank tick. Thank you for making Albuquerque a better place. Annemarie Ciepiela Henton is a volunteer that serves on the Food Bank’s Communications Committee.