A 25-year-old Rio Rancho nonprofit is going strong, serving 400 people a month, but in need of volunteers.
People Helping People is an independent 501(c)3 organization that provides free food, clothing, baby supplies, furniture, household goods and Christmas gifts to people who need them, said founder and CEO Linda Stevenson. She started People Helping People from her carport, feeding about 30 people a month.
As the organization grew, she began operating out of storage facilities, currently River’s Edge Mini Storage, 110 Industrial Park Loop.
“I have no payroll,” she said. “Everybody is a volunteer. We need help desperately.”
She particularly needs volunteers on Fridays, but also on the last Saturday of the month. They must be healthy and able to lift 20 pounds.
Food from arriving trucks needs to be put away, and someone must sort clothes and baby items.
Her main food distribution of dry goods and frozen meat, about $150 worth to each household, is on the last Saturday of the month from 9-10 a.m. During November and December, when she and volunteers offer food on the Saturday before the holidays.
On Fridays, they hand out food to families who can’t wait for the end of the month. Distributions are done via drive-thru.
“We don’t care who you are, how much you make,” Stevenson said. “I don’t care — if you’re hungry, we feed you.”
People Helping People has given food to some families for 10-15 years.
“Times are hard; you have trouble making ends meet,” Stevenson said. “There are people who make $7 too much for food stamps.”
She often works with domestic violence victims and Veterans Administration clients, helping them get everything they need for a new home or a new baby. Everything she offers comes from donations.
During the pandemic, Stevenson said, the number of people she served stayed the same, but food donations increased.
“We have more food than we know what to do with,” she said.
With the government providing more food and unemployment benefits, she said, people didn’t need much. She expects that to change with those benefits being cut back.
In addition to her distribution from the storage units, Stevenson said she gives food to one person who in turn feeds 200 homeless people a week and another who distributes food out of her trunk in low-income trailer parks. She also sends food to Albuquerque shelters: HopeWorks, Westside Emergency Housing Center and Good Shepherd Center.
“I don’t hand out anything I wouldn’t eat myself,” she said.
Anything she can’t give away goes to feed animals to avoid waste.
Last Christmas, People Helping People provided Christmas gifts to 500 families, who picked their own items from the storage units, Stevenson said.
She said her biggest problem is people calling to ask for help and then failing to come get the items without explanation.
“It’s extremely depressing,” she said.
Still, Stevenson said just one person receiving an item they need and being excited makes it all worthwhile.
To volunteer or get help, call Stevenson at 615-1951 after 5 p.m. or visit peoplehelpingpeoplenm.org.