Donate Toys To “Put A Smile On A Child’s Face”
By Arin McKenna
Sportsmen and Concerned Citizens of New Mexico (SCCNM) is asking for toy donations for their Put a Smile on a Child’s Face event. Their goal is to collect 1,000 toys for Española Valley Children.
Co-founder Peggy Suazo-Romero and her late husband, Tony Suazo, launched Put a Smile on a Child’s Face in 1994. The inspiration for the event was a dream Tony had one night, which was “to put a toy in the hands of every child in the Española Valley,”
“My husband said, ‘Every child that comes through that line will get a toy because every child is a child of God.’ He wanted to see a smile on every child’s face,” Suazo-Romero said. “And every year we see that smile. Last year, we saw that smile with hundreds and hundreds of children.”
Put a Smile has grown during its 24-year history. When Suazo-Romero had to cancel the event in 2015 and 2016 after she broke her foot, it was hard for her to bear having to disappoint the children. She wants to make sure there is a gift for every child who attends this year.
This year’s event is dedicated to Mark Martinez, a four-year-old boy with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
“I told his family that even if he is only able to be here for 15 minutes or a half hour, I want this to be his day,” Suazo-Romero said.
The organization is asking people to donate a $5 toy. In keeping with their organization’s mission, they will not accept any weapons. Suazo-Romero also suggested $5 gift cards that older kids would enjoy, such as to fast food restaurants.
Drop boxes to collect the gifts are located at Zia Credit Union (sponsor for the Put a Smile on a Child’s Face event), the Presbyterian Española Hospital, Rio Arriba Title & Escrow and Familia Dental. Those unable to get to a drop box can call Suazo-Romero at 505-753-9632 to arrange a pickup.
Put a Smile on a Child’s Face is from 11:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Holy Cross Gym, 1331 State Road 76, Santa Cruz.