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Manuelito Children’s Home: A west side treasure

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A home for Native American children since 1959

Manuelito Children’s Home did not start out as a children’s home, but as a preaching mission to the Navajo people. The mission work was overseen by a congregation in Albuquerque and later by one in Farmington.

Fundraising to care for children placed in comfortable, and loving home remains paramount. Wild Thing Championship Bullriding has been a major source of funding for both the home and the school the children attend.

And both children and adults work the concession stands and parking to raise money.

A HISTORY

The Farmington-Albuquerque congregations, being approximately 150 miles, each respectively, felt they could not properly oversee the important work of helping Navajo children, so in 1959 the Church of Christ in Gallup was asked to take responsibility for this work.

The missionaries at Manuelito, a small community 18 miles west of Gallup, were already caring for children by families that could not care for them. When the opportunity came to combine both, this proved to be a win-win situation for both, so the decision was made to turn the major emphasis of the work to child care.

There was a great need to provide for the many homeless children in the area as well as bringing them up with Christian values.

‘WILD THING’ FUNDRAISING

Today, those same values are still applied at MCH, being a non-profit organization that is still dedicated to helping children in need. According to Jim Christian, children’s home superintendent, the home is sponsored by Churches of Christ and friends across the country who want to help make a difference in the life of a child, and other fundraising events to maintain the upkeep of the home, such as the 25th Annual Wild Thing Championship Bull Riding held in Gallup July 13-14.

The relationship with Wild Thing began when promoter Larry Peterson’s father help build the home, and who was also on the board of directors at the time. When “Wild Thing” launched 25 years ago, the adults and children of MCH helped by handling the parking and concession stands at the the event with all proceeds from these two going to MCH and the Christian school. It’s still going strong to this day.

“It’s our largest local fund-raiser that we do every year and we have volunteers that come in from out of state to help us man that,” he said. “I’ll have about 60 volunteers here to help us park cars and make nachos (laughing). We have a lot of fun with our visitors but it’s a lot of hard work for a few days.”

Christian says Wild Thing gets better each year and so does proceeds for the children’s home and school.

“We make anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 on a weekend, so I would say we average about $12,000,” he said, “Last year was probably the best we’ve ever done and hit about around $16,000 last year. The weather cooperated, everything just went smooth last year and we maximized the potential there … that’s all we do there, they won’t let us ride bulls (laughing).”

According to Christian, the money raised goes into the general fund.

“We use it for back-to-school items the kids need, such as school supplies and school clothes,” he said. “We also use it to pay for the utilities like propane, electricity, and food, but it all goes into the general fund. The summer is really our tough time of the year because our donations are down and wholly surviving on our little fundraisers.So, this event fits perfect.”

MCH operates on about a $900,000 to nearly $1 million budget a year said Christian. Most of the support comes from Southern California and Texas, and other outside sources. He said although there are many “deep-pockets” wealthy children’s home, they are not.

“There’s been times when we’re trying to figure out which bills to pay this month and we live like most families out there from paycheck to paycheck,” he said. “So, any donations coming in from Gallup are always welcomed and appreciated.”

The MCH has been in operation for almost 60-years and yet little people know of its existence, Christian said.

“I’m surprised sometimes of how few people know that we are here for 60 years, just 2.5 miles outside of Gallup. We’re still here and we’re here to help kids,” he said.

“Our work is made possible because of the generosity of good people, churches, and businesses found throughout the United States. We solicit your financial giving and your prayers.”

To donate and for more information contact (505) 863-5530 or visit: www.mnch.info or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

By Dee Velasco
For the Sun

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