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Santa Fe kids haul trash to earn cash for Empty Stocking Fund

December 24, 2018

If you pace it out, it takes about 170 steps to roll a trash bin down the dirt and gravel driveway leading from the house where Nessa and Silvan Yanda-Norris live.

Every Monday night or Tuesday morning over the past 52 weeks, the two local kids have pulled their family’s trash and recyclable bins down the twisting, turning path to deposit them on the curb of nearby Palace Avenue.

Their grandmother paid each of them $1 a week for their efforts. By year’s end, it totaled some $100 — not for the Yanda-Norrises to use for personal gain or holiday gifts, but to donate to the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Empty Stocking Fund, which provides support for Santa Feans who are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table during the holiday season.

“I wanted to very much make Nessa and Silvan aware of the needs of some people in this city,” said their grandmother, Susan Yanda, a retired schoolteacher.

Plus, she joked, “I hate to take out the garbage.”

Nessa, 10, and Silvan, 7, started taking out the garbage to earn money for the Empty Stocking Fund early in 2017, inspired by their grandmother’s efforts to teach them about those who may not be as fortunate when it comes to having a place to live or money to pay the bills.

They kept on rolling in 2018.

“I think it’s very important for people to feel that they are loved, and important that they get a present this time of year,” Nessa said.

That present, she said, could be money to pay for necessities because “some people don’t have heat or electricity.”

The duo brought their $100 in $1 bills to The New Mexican earlier this month. They’ve still got at least one more week’s worth of garbage to take out before 2018 closes — and before they start the whole routine next week to raise money for the 2019 Empty Stocking Fund.

Neither child thinks it’s that tough of a job, though Nessa said she has fallen on the downhill task a few times. The two barely top the height of the 41-inch tall trash and recyclable bins: Nessa stands 56 inches tall and Silvan is 51 inches tall.

Both promised to keep taking out the trash to raise money for the fund until they depart for college, adding more and more responsibilities to their job list every year as they age.

“I’m proud to do this,” Silvan said.

Still, neither was pleased to hear they have to deliver the trash to the curb Tuesday morning — Christmas Day.

“It’s sad that the garbage people have to work on Christmas morning,” Nessa said. “Bah, humbug!”

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