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El Paso Walmart’s temporary ban on outdoor fundraising causes ‘Hanksgiving’ organizers to rely on community donations

EL PASO, Texas -- In light of the August 3rd Walmart shooting, El Paso Walmart stores temporarily suspended outside fundraising.

This change in policy is impacting Hanks High School from collecting donations for their annual thanksgiving food drive, 'Hanksgiving.'

"Hanksgiving is a project we started with 10 baskets, and we would get all the canned goods, and turkeys and all the fixings that go along with the thanksgiving dinner," said Isabella Bentley, a junior at Hanks and the Vice President of the Hanks High School Interact Club.

For nearly 20 years the Interact Club has provided families in need with free food baskets for the Thanksgiving season. The 'Hanksgiving' program now feeds 500 families in the community, but this year organizers are having trouble collecting the food items they need for their baskets.

"We don't have nearly as much as last year," said Bentley.

The reason for this is the change in fundraising policy that Walmart has placed since the August 3rd shooting which temporarily prohibits outdoor fundraising in El Paso stores.

"When we went to Walmart we would stand in front of both entrances and exits and just basically ask anybody going in if they have any spare change or anything. By the end of the day we would leave with at least 4 shopping carts full of canned items," said Bentley.

According to Delia Garcia, Senior Director of Communications for Walmart, "the decision to temporarily suspend external solicitation activities was out of sensitivity for customers, associates and the community."

Students with Hanks high schools Interact club are relying on donations from the community to help them reach their goal of providing 500 families with food baskets this year.

"We are really in need of turkey's and just all the trimmings that go along with a Thanksgiving meal," said Bentley.

'Hanksgiving' organizers are asking the community to donate the following food items:

• Turkeys
• Cranberries (canned)
• Cream of mushroom/chicken soup (canned)
• Green beans (canned)
• Corn (canned)
• Chicken broth
• Gravy
• Stuffing
• Cornbread mix
• Mashed potatoes
• Mixed veggies

Organizers will be collecting canned food items Saturday, November 16th at the Walk Across Ysleta event at Blackie Chesher Park. Students will organize the donations and create an assembly line to create the food baskets on Sunday, Nov. 24, with the goal of distributing the baskets on Monday, Nov. 25.

Anyone interested in donating food items for 'Hanksgiving' can drop them off during school hours through Friday, Nov. 22, in Room 100 at Hanks High School, 2001 Lee Trevino Drive, or contact Monica Lopez at 915-434-5014.

Bentley hopes that the community will step up and donate to their organization so they can continue their 'Hanksgiving' tradition.

"We've been feeding 500 families for 10 years now and to lose it now because of a tragic incident is not something we want to see. We want to show our community that we are El Paso strong."

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Iris Lopez

Iris Lopez is a weathercaster and reporter for ABC-7.

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