Gabriel Chavez serves as a volunteer in many capacities. He was one of the driving forces in the formation and expansion of the El Caldito Soup Kitchen and is an integral part of the Gleaning Committee. Chavez also heads an annual Empty Bowl Community Event, is a food specialist with the American Red Cross Disaster Unit, and is a very active member of the Knights of Columbus.
El Caldito Soup Kitchens feeds the homeless population in Las Cruces and its surrounding rural communities. The Kitchen was founded in 1984, and they served a meal at noon twice a week. By 1985 El Caldito was serving four days a week, and in the year 200 they served five days a week with special holiday meals. Each month, 300 volunteers now serve 5,000 meals.
The Kitchen needed food donations, so in 1993, Chavez organized a gleaning committee. The purpose of this committee is quite simple; they collect food from grocery stores, restaurants, and local farmers throughout the year. The 18 volunteers that work with the Gleaning Committee make it possible for fruits, bread, and vegetables to be given to the homeless when they come to be served. That way, they can have something nutritional to take with them. The Gleaners also distribute food to 10 other nonprofit agencies that serve the homeless besides El Caldito Kitchen.
As the Food Specialist for the American Red Cross Disaster Unit/Drill Training team, Chavez and his team prepares and delivers food to firefighters who are controlling forest blazes. His team of six volunteers makes it possible for meals to be flown 260 miles away to an average of 250 firefighters.
Chavez also heads the Empty Bowls annual fundraiser. The Mesilla Valley Potters Guild and the El Caldito Soup Kitchen partner each year for this event. Individuals can buy a hand-made pottery bowl and soup for $10. The local restaurants donate the soup and the proceeds benefit El Caldito Soup Kitchen.
Chavez is also a member of the Knights of Columbus. He has assisted with the preparation and donation of 100 baskets of can and dry food given to the needy families who otherwise may not have food during the holidays. The community collects the food for this drive throughout the year, and he works on this project four months with an average of 130 hours of service.