This marks the third year the family of Damien Ocampo and a virtual army of volunteers are taking on the food drive that Toby Jaramillo and his wife Ermie started in 1969.

The 53rd Annual Food Drive for Christmas is underway and Ocampo wants it to be another good year for those families needing a little help.

“It’s the same Christmas food drive that Toby started over 50 years ago,” Ocampo said. “I took it over two years ago in memory of Toby and Ermie and the Jaramillo family and we are determined to keep it going.”

Toby passed away in 2020. Ermie in 2017.

The food drive is dedicated to the memory of the Jaramillo family and again this year, Ocampo and his many Santa elves are collecting canned goods destined for the many gift baskets that go to families in need of a little assistance.

“This is such a special time for both families, the Jaramillos and Ocampos,” he said. “Major sponsors include Puerto Seguro, the City of Socorro, and John Brooks Supermart.

“This community’s been awesome,” Ocampo said. “Last year we had over 50 volunteers. This year we may have more than that.”

Ocampo was a regular volunteer in years previous and when Toby passed away, he said there was no question as to the continuation of the food drive.

“We always thought it was special for the community. I volunteered for Toby when he and Ermie and the family did it,” Ocampo said at the time. “When Toby had passed and they appointed me to his position on the City Council, I felt like it was only right. He was my friend. He was my neighbor for years, and I just felt like we should step up and do it in remembrance of him and his family.”

Families need to be registered, he said.

“If they’re in need or know somebody in need then they can call my State Farm office and get registered for a food basket,” Ocampo said. “Since the beginning, the food drive has grown from 10 families in 1969 to serving close to a predicted 240 this year.

“I hope we can achieve our goal this year, but it’s hard to predict,” he said. “Families need to get registered as soon as possible. If they aren’t registered, then we wouldn’t have them on the list. We have the registrations at State Farm. They can call or they can swing by and pick up the form.

“Anybody who would like to donate personally, we have a Facebook page. Ocampo Family Food Drive,” he said. “We also have PayPal @ocampofooddrive or cash app – $Ocampofooddrive. They can donate through that, or they can come by the State Farm office to make donations.”

Drop-off hours for donations at Ocampo’s insurance office are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The cash donations will be used to buy the turkeys and other perishables like potatoes, beans and oranges,” Ocampo said.

A cash donation of $40 will feed two families.

“It’s the whole shebang. A Christmas feast plus gifts for the kids,” he said. “Churches are helping us out and the police department with the kids’ gifts.”

Christmas food baskets will be handed out, drive-thru style, from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, in the area behind San Miguel Church.

For more information, contact Ocampo’s State Farm Insurance agency at 575-835-0001.

“We are so thankful for the Jaramillo family,” Ocampo said. “Every year, they are here to help. We know it’s special for them, and us just to have them there. We’re so thankful for them.”