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NMSU's La Sociedad para las Artes battles hunger with 17th annual event

In the continuing effort to combat hunger in Dona Ana County, the New Mexico State University English Department's La Sociedad para las Artes will hold its annual Hunger Benefit on Friday, Nov. 12, at Beverly Hills Hall, 150 N. Hermosa St.

A reading by celebrated author Charles Bowden will begin at 6 p.m., and a chile cook-off between the Master of Fine Arts students and their faculty will follow. The benefit also will include music, a silent auction, small carnival and cash bar. Bowden will be reading from his new book, "Murder City," about the cross-border drug violence plaguing our region.

The benefit, now in its 17th year, raises funds that benefit Casa de Peregrinos, an emergency food bank that serves Dona Ana County.

"When the benefit was first held, it came as a surprise as to how much the English Department could do. When it was requested that the benefit become an annual event, the English Department embraced the idea," said program coordinator and Las Sociedad para las Artes member Floyd Elliot. "We have become a good source of funding for Casa de Peregrinos, so it's very important we continue this."

Over the last 17 years, La Sociedad para las Artes has raised more than $75,000 for Casa de Peregrinos, helping the organization carry out its mission.

"This is really the only fundraising event we have," Casa de Peregrinos Director Rebecca Renteria said. "La Sociedad Para Los Artes puts everything together and raises an enormous amount of money for us. These funds really help us out, especially around the Thanksgiving holiday."

Doors will open at 5 p.m. for attendees to view silent auction items including paintings, jewelry and gift certificates donated by area businesses, including Austin's Jewelers, Mountain View Market Co-op, Nambe and the Salsa Store.

Following the reading, guests can partake in the event carnival, which includes a cakewalk, ring-toss and "Minute-Made Poetry" in which poetry students will create a poem for the individual guest. Bayou Seco and Friends will provide traditional New Mexico music.

Tickets are $10 and the organization is seeking monetary donations as well as donations of canned food and plastic grocery bags.

To purchase tickets, make a donation or for more information on the event, contact Melanie Sweeney Bowen at melbowen@nmsu.edu.