Sharing the Thanksgiving spirit
Groups reach out to make holiday dinner available to everyone
By BILL McMILLEN/The Daily News Nov 24, 2011
BULLHEAD CITY — Thanksgiving is a time most Americans share with their families, gathered together around the dinner table at home.
For many Americans, including a number in the Tri-state, there is no dinner on table. For some, there is no home.
Area agencies deal with that problem every day of the year, but the need is magnified during the holiday season, when the sharing spirit permeates through the community. At least three groups — involving dozens of volunteers, agencies and businesses — will be sharing Thanksgiving with others today.
“My wish is that nobody has to go without a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Marcy Burke, of the nonprofit Caring Hearts Food Ministry operating at Valley Christian Church in Bullhead City. Thanks to a grant from the BHHS Legacy Foundation and partnership with the owner Rosa Hernandez and her staff at Lizzy’s Kitchen, 2649 Highway 95, an estimated 600 Thanksgiving dinners will be served at the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today.
“It’s a big undertaking,” Burke said, noting that this is the first year her agency has been involved. Previously, the Food for Families Ministry at Bullhead City’s Praise Chapel joined forces with Hernandez for the annual Thanksgiving dinner. Praise Chapel is concentrating its resources on its growing food distribution program but Caring Hearts stepped in to help keep the tradition going.
“All year round, we’re so blessed with our restaurant,” Hernandez said at last year’s event, explaining why she opens her restaurant — and her family and staff — to the community. “I want to do something to give back to the community. We know how hard times are; we want to help them as much as possible. And it’s gratitude to God for blessing the business all year.”
For Caring Hearts, it’s more than just helping coordinate the dinner. It’s also about coordinating those who take part in it. Burke noted that many are homeless or don’t have a vehicle, so the ministry has made arrangements for transportation to and from the restaurant for a number of diners.
“Anyone that has called, we’re going to pick them up and bring them here,” Burke said. “We’re going all over Bullhead City … over to Laughlin.”
The dinner also is aimed at older residents who may not have the energy or ability to fix a Thanksgiving dinner and for those who simply have no where to go for the holiday meal.
“We’re not going to turn anybody away,” Burke said.
Burke said a number of people have volunteered to assist in some form or another.
“It’s just been awesome the way people have stepped up,” she said.
And still others are stepping up by donating to the food ministry, whose needs don’t begin and end with the holiday season.
“Donations are accepted,” Burke said. “We‘ll take the money and put it into the program to buy more food.”
Last year, more than 400 people ate dinner thanks to Lizzy’s and Praise Chapel. This year, Burke expects that number to be considerably higher.
“The need for food has grown so rapidly,” she said. “We see that every day. I called Lizzy’s and asked them and they told me they did 400 dinners last year. I said we probably should expect 500 or more this year and she said ‘OK, we’ll be ready for 600.’ ”
Lizzy’s isn’t the only location offering a free meal to the public today. The Set Free Christian Fellowship, at 2408 Decker Drive in Bullhead City, will serve meals starting at 3 p.m. Set Free also will serve Christmas dinners at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Fellowship members serve as the cooks in their annual holiday tradition that is part of the group’s ongoing mission to feed the homeless. The holiday dinners are in addition to the regular hot meals the fellowship serves on a daily basis.
And others who are unable to fix their own holiday meals will have it done for them. The Fort Mojave Mesa Firefighters will be preparing food for 63 area families.
The firefighters will prepare the meal at Fire Station 92 this morning; they’ll be picked up later by New Hope Hospice representatives, who will deliver the food to hospice patients and their families.