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NMSU students spearhead DRIVE HOPE to feed Las Cruces families

A group of students in a health communication class at New Mexico State University are putting more than their marketing skills to test to help a local Las Cruces food bank. Students have partnered with Casa de Peregrinos, an organization which provides food to many Las Cruces families, to sponsor a campus food drive and a fundraiser from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 14 at M Five, 901 Avenida De Mesilla, in Las Cruces.

In addition to collecting food and raising money, the communications students offered Casa de Peregrinos a new identity. They recommended the nonprofit re-brand itself as CDP, which is easily understood in both English and Spanish. The students are also in the process of creating a new logo for the organization and working to get a truck donated for food deliveries.

"Casa de Peregrinos or CDP as they are calling it now is a great pillar in our community," said Heather Quiroz, leader of the fundraiser. "They feed thousands of people in the Dona Ana County through their pantries. They average 1,140 distributions a month. With their assistance they have helped ease the lives of many people in Dona Ana County."

The "DRIVE HOPE (Helping Other People Eat) FOOD DRIVE" is already underway on campus. The College of Arts and Sciences departments are participating in a competition to see which can collect the most food donations by April 12. The winning department will get a $100 prize courtesy of the communication studies department.

"These students are using their talents and abilities to address a serious issue that threatens this community - food security," said Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "They are making a difference and that is what education is all about. I am proud to support them."

Non-perishable food items will be accepted from anyone who wishes to donate and may be dropped off in the main office of the Communication Studies department in room 304 in the Speech building, across the parking lot from Barnes & Noble. The students are also partnering with the softball team to raise food donations and working with a local car dealership to get a truck donated to help the organization deliver fresh produce to families.

The fundraiser will include wine tasting, appetizers, entertainment and a silent auction. Tickets are available at Casa de Peregrinos at 999 Amador and will cost $20 for those 21 and older, $15 for those under 21.

"In the 13 years I have taught at NMSU I have never had a group of students this dedicated to giving back to the community as the COMM 480 (Health Communication) students," said Anne Hubbell, department head of Communication Studies. "Their dedication and hard work has surpassed all my expectations for the class projects. They have internalized the idea of service and their projects will provide funding, food, a vehicle and new branding for Casa de Peregrinos. Through their work children in this city won't go to sleep hungry."

For more information about the fundraiser or food drive contact Heather Quiroz at hrq09@nmsu.edu or Olivia Lozano at olozano@nmsu.edu .