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NMSU program to host hunger benefit for local food bank

La Sociedad para las Artes in the New Mexico State University Department of English will present its annual hunger benefit reading at the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Downtown Mall, at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. Fiction writer ZZ Packer and Rus Bradburd, writer and English instructor at New Mexico State University, will read.

Bonnie Schwartz, organizer and NMSU graduate student, said the program has sponsored the hunger benefit for 14 years to raise money for Casa de Peregrinos, a non-profit local emergency food bank.

Last year close to $10,000 was raised, Schwartz said, and Casa de Peregrinos calculated that because of those funds, about 1,000 families were fed. Schwartz also said individuals should purchase tickets whether they can attend or not because the money will go directly to Casa de los Peregrinos and unused tickets will go to Casa de Peregrinos employees and students who could not afford to attend otherwise.

The two authors that will read have a variety of credits to their careers. Packer is the author of a short story collection, "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," a selection that is a PEN/Faulkner finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, and have been read on National Public Radio's "Selected Shorts."

Bradburd, a Chicago native, coached college basketball at the University of Texas at El Paso and NMSU for 14 seasons. He resigned from his coaching position to pursue an MFA degree in 2000. Since retiring from college coaching, his essays have appeared in The Houston Chronicle, El Paso Times, Las Cruces Sun-News, Heartland Journal and Newspaper Tree. NMSU coaching legend Lou Henson will introduce Bradburd, his former assistant.

A silent auction will coincide with the reading. Guests can bid on various items donated from local businesses. Door prizes will be awarded. A reception will follow at the restaurant My Brother's Place, 336 S. Main St., featuring New Mexican, Mexican and Cajun music by Bayou Seco.

Tickets are $10. All proceeds are donated to Casa de Peregrinos.

For more information call (505) 646-2027.