New Mexico State University system faculty, staff and students have come together to lend a helping hand to the community during the coronavirus pandemic. Outreach efforts across the university system have provided many types of assistance, such as food for the homeless, groceries for the vulnerable, personal protective equipment for area healthcare professionals and more.
Supplies for healthcare workers have been scarce nationwide, and Las Cruces is no exception. Leslie Beck, an extension weed specialist and assistant professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, saw the dire situation and donated excess personal protection equipment from her lab, adding to the supplies gathered and distributed by NMSU’s Police Department. Beck donated 2,000 gloves, 125 disposable Tyvek coveralls and one box of dust masks.
“Most heroes don’t wear capes,” Beck said. “But here’s to hoping that from this point on, they are able to wear the appropriate PPE to protect themselves in the line of duty!”
In the College of Engineering, the Aggie Innovation Space has created more than more than 400 face shields for healthcare workers. They plan to create 300 more this week.
In the College of Business, Rajaa Shindi, an assistant professor of accounting, is collaborating with Healthcare Pharmacy, a locally owned pharmacy, to collect sanitizers, detergents and gloves to be donated to local medical personnel and their families to stay safe in their homes.
Nancy McMillan, department head of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church, partnered up with the Player’s Grill to host a potluck on Easter Sunday for people living in Camp Hope, the tent city associated with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. After the stay-at-home order was mandated throughout the state, McMillan had to be creative to make sure the St. Andrew’s tradition of a monthly potluck supper, called Second Sunday Supper, continued.
“We decided to get single serving boxes. So, we were looking at the catering and deli places in town and then I got an email from the Player’s Grill, the restaurant at the NMSU Golf Course,” McMillan said. “It said we know you can’t come to our restaurant but, if you have any need for catering or anything else think of us. I really want to keep my staff employed. It was really heartwarming. Through donations from church members, we were able to continue our tradition of fellowship at Camp Hope and support staff working at the Player’s Grill.”
Because many basic essentials on store shelves have in short supply due to the pandemic, Zooey Sophia Pook, director of NMSU’s LGBT+ Programs, started a campaign to help find and deliver essential items to the elderly and disabled who have difficulty getting supplies they need. Pook is receiving three to four emails a day asking for items such as toilet paper and food. Along with James Rice, an NMSU professor of sociology, Pook has been delivering items daily. If you know someone in need of essential supplies, email Pook at email@example.com.
NMSU faculty and staff are not the only ones giving back. NMSU alumnus Lawrence Chavez, CEO of EveryDay Contacts, has donated more than 165 gallons of hand sanitizer to homeless shelters and healthcare providers through his company.
The kinesiology department in the College of Education is making sure parents and kids in the community continue to stay active. Amanda Concha, the Aggie Play coordinator, has created a series of online work out videos for kids to have fun while staying active. To participate in the Aggie Play workouts, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5disRbcBLg.
“I have been greatly encouraged to learn of the efforts of my colleagues at NMSU on behalf of the community,” Beck said. “We are working together and doing what we can to help those who are on the front lines and those who may be struggling.”
NMSU President John Floros said the efforts of Aggie employees, students and alumni are inspiring, and show the connection the university system has to the communities it serves.
“There are dozens of examples of these kinds of collaboration and service efforts being undertaken by our Aggie community,” Floros said. “It’s a testament to who we are and how we deal with challenges and adversity. I could not be more proud of our generous and compassionate Aggies.”