Española Helps Fill The Bud Truck To Feed Low-Income Families
Story and photos by Arin McKenna
The Walgreens parking lot had a festive atmosphere Saturday, with a Budweiser truck parked near the street, music from KDCE Radio filling the air and people stopping by to drop off food donations to feed the hungry at Christmas.
Saturday’s Fill the Bud Truck event netted five pallets of food to donate to San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen, approximately 10,500 pounds of nonperishable goods. In addition to local contributions, the Bud truck picked up donations from several Santa Fe grocery stores before heading up to Española.
This is the fourth year for the Fill the Bud Truck food drive, which was initiated by the Santa Fe branch of Premier Distributing. According to General Manager James Garcia, the brands they distribute, such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, encourage community involvement.
“We’re all about helping the community, and we want to maintain our community involvement, especially now during the holidays,” Garcia said. “We want to give back to the community. We want to stay local.”
Premier Distributing branches throughout New Mexico contribute to their communities in a variety of ways such as packing food at local food banks or helping out at soup kitchens. When Premier Distributing conceived this event four years ago, they approached Walgreens Manager Christina Villareal to see if she would allow them to hold a community event on the premises.
“I said, yeah, that would be great,” Villareal said. “My biggest thing was, as long as the proceeds stayed in our valley, I was okay with it.”
Premier Distributors markets the event by designing a poster to advertise it and circulating that out throughout their market. Their marketing efforts received a major boost when KDCE came onboard three years ago.
KDCE Sales Associate Judy Lujan organizes the radio station’s efforts. In addition to on-air publicity, Lujan enlisted 24 sponsors who contributed both food and cash donations. Some of that money is used to promote the event, the rest goes to purchasing additional food. This year KDCE purchased $1,500 of nonperishable food items.
“KDCE is a family-owned business, very involved in our community, very supportive of our community,” Lujan said. “This brings the community together. This community is united.”
Owner Richard Garcia’s son, Tomas Garcia (aka Tomas-No-Mas), was one of three of the station’s radio personalities broadcasting Saturday’s event, along with Mariachi Mike and Adriana, assisted by DJ Evaristo Lopez. Tomas said he has seen other stations come and go in the local market, “and none of them have that community involvement that we have.”
Garcia and Lujan praised the cosponsors and listeners who supported the food drive.
“I want to thank all the people that cosponsored this event: local merchants, small businesses,” Lujan said. “I just want to encourage people to shop locally. It’s so important. These people give and give and give and we need to show our support in return.”
Garcia said that the station’s support of events like this remind him of a quote from Producer Adam Leipzig, who said, “Happier people make it a point to make other people happy.” He praised the efforts of San Martin de Porres.
“We know that there’s a lot of financially challenged individuals in our community who could use a good meal, and they do it every day,” Garcia said. “They go five days a week. And Suzan’s an angel. Suzan Roybal and her staff are just amazing people.”
Suzan Roybal is the registered agent/director of San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen, a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity. The soup kitchen serves lunch at 11:30 sharp five days a week. The Fill the Bud Truck food drive collects donations for their holiday food distribution. Volunteers will pack approximately 500 boxes of food for low-income and no-income families, that will be distributed in mid-December.
“Around that time, around the holidays, you get a lot of needy families,” Roybal said. “A lot of people lose their jobs and they get sick and they need all the help they can get.”
Roybal and her sisters, Theodora Valdez and Erlinda Quintana opened the soup kitchen in July of 1992.
“We started planning in 1989, after we came from a trip to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, to see the apparitions of Our Lady,” Valdez said. “We knew after that visit what our mission was: to feed the poor and to comfort God’s people.”
Roybal thanked major sponsors Premier Distributing, Walgreens and KDCE, saying “They’re awesome. They’re wonderful, wonderful people,” as well as all the other sponsors and employees who support the event. But Roybal’s highest praise went to the local community.
“I want to thank all the wonderful people of not only Española Valley but all of Northern New Mexico,” Roybal said. “We’re the poorest part of the state but the most generous and loving. They come forth to give of their time, their talent, their treasure. And their treasure is composed of their need. They don’t have money, so they give of what they have.”
Roybal is also grateful when people bring their children with them when they donate.
“As people come up and they come with their little children, I thank them for teaching their children the meaning of service,” Roybal said. “Because if everybody would do that, start when they’re little, by the time they grow up they’re instilled with that. And if everybody would do that, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.”
Those unable to make Saturday’s event can still contribute. Donations can be delivered to San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen, 171 W. Jonathan Street, (Apple Valley). Checks can also be sent to 216 SR 399, Española, 87532. All donations are tax deductible.
Volunteers are always needed. The soup kitchen alone has 20 teams comprised of 130 volunteers. Roybal is in need of a couple of team captains, people willing to hold a key and take charge of the kitchen. She stressed that “everybody that goes in there pulls their weight, does their thing,” so being a team captain does not mean having to shoulder all the work.
In 2017, the board saw a need to help families with housing issues. Valdez took charge of that side if the operation. The focus is on preventing low-income families from becoming homeless. They receive help with budgeting, referrals to agencies that can help them and assistance with finding housing with family, friends or shelters. Valdez also needs volunteers to assist those families, such as driving them to doctor’s appointments or to do their shopping.
Valdez is grateful for the community’s support. She closed with, “I want to say that I have found out, in my 26 years of running the soup kitchen, that the Baby Jesus is alive and well in Northern New Mexico. God bless us all.”
Fill the Bud Truck organizers and volunteers: From left: Premier Distributing’s Gabe Vigil, Española sales representative and Sales Manager Allen Lujan, KDCE’s Mariachi Mike and Adriana, San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen volunteer Luke Akes, Co-Founder Theodora Valdez and board member Mona Romero, KDCE Sales Associate Judy Lujan, San Martin Co-Founder and Director Suzan Roybal, Premier Distributing General Manager James Garcia, DJ Evaristo Lopez. Ross and Clara Spinks.
Fill the Bud Truck brought in approximately 10,500 pounds of non-perishable food items, which San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen will distribute to low-income families for the holidays.
KDCE and Premier Distributing: From Left: Premier Distributing’s Sales Manager Allen Lujan, KDCE’s Mariachi Mike and Sales Associate Judy Lujan, Premier Distributing’s General Manager James Garcia (kneeling), KDCE’s Adriana and Tomas-No-Mas (Tomas Garcia), DJ Evaristo Lopez and Gabe Vigil, Española sales representative for Premier Distributing.
Volunteers Clara and Ross Spinks unload food from a donor’s truck.
San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen Co-Founders Suzan Roybal (left) and Theodora Valdez with Modesto Gallegos, who provided a space for the soup kitchen when it opened in 1992. San Martin’s third co-founder, Erlinda Quintana, was unable to attend the event.
As donations come in, food is sorted into categories.
From left: San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen Co-Founder Theodora Valdez, KDCE’s Mariachi Mike and Sales Associate Judy Lujan, San Martin Co-Founder and Director Suzan Roybal, KDCE’s Adriana, San Martin board member Mona Romero, KDCE’s Tomas-No-Mas and DJ Evaristo Lopez.
Walgreens Manager Christina Villareal.
San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen volunteer Luke Akes visits with Co-Founder Theodora Valdez.
KDCE staff from left: Mariachi Mike, Sales Associate Judy Lujan, Adriana (Martinez), (Tomas Garcia) and DJ Evaristo Lopez.
KDCE’S Mariachi Mike, DJ Evaristo Lopez and KDCE’S Adriana and Tomas-No-Mas.