Eisenhower Middle School is joining the fight in the wildfires of New Mexico.
The school is collecting items this week, May 9-13, for firefighters and others affected by the fires.
“We are accepting donations all week, and what we’re doing is we’re looking at donations to not only help out members of the community up north, but mostly the firefighters,” said Sandra Spiess, seventh-grade science teacher at Eisenhower. “We have staff that have family members that live in the Las Vegas area and we also have some family members who are working as firefighters up there right now.”
The school is asking for cases of water, sunscreen, snacks like trail mix, and lip balm. Austin Gonzagowski, a U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer who has a daughter at Eisenhower, said donations can be helpful. “As long as people have their hearts in the right place, it can be useful. Absolutely,” he said. Gonzagowski said donations should be packaged and sealed and all foods non-perishable. “Anything that is perishable and isn’t packaged or has been tampered with can’t be used,” he said.
Donations can be dropped off in the school library after the first bell.
Spiess said a Bernalillo County Fire Department truck will pick up the donations on Friday to take them up north, either to the Las Vegas or Jemez areas. “Wherever they have the most need for it,” Spiess said. As of Monday, the school received three cases of water, some sunscreen and lip balm.
There are currently multiple wildfires burning across the state, affecting thousands of New Mexicans. According to nmfireinfo.com, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon Fires are 43% contained and burned over 189,000 acres around Las Vegas and Mora. The Cooks Peak fire north of Mora is 97% contained and burned more than 59,000 acres. The Cerro Pelado fire in the Jemez is 11% contained and spread across over 40,000 acres.
The National Weather Service in Albuquerque warns of a long duration period of critical fire weather. A high wind warning and red flag warning are in effect for most of the state, with Las Vegas Municipal Airport reporting winds of 33 miles per hour and gusts up to 51 miles per hour as of 12:53 p.m.
For updated information on the status of wildfires in New Mexico and across the U.S., visit inciweb.nwcg.gov. InciWeb and nmfireinfo.com also have links to evacuation locations and orders. Local law enforcement is usually in charge of enforcing evacuation orders. Contact one of the county sheriff’s offices or visit their websites and social media pages to learn more about evacuations in specific parts of New Mexico.
For those wishing to donate but not in the Eisenhower Middle School area, there are other options. The American Red Cross, HELP New Mexico, the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation and the All Together NM Fund are accepting monetary donations to help with emergency shelter, food and water distribution, and access to medical support. The Salvation Army is also accepting food, clothing, hygiene products and pet supplies.