D’Angelo’s hosts fourth annual free Christmas Eve dinner

December 27, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — D’Angelo’s Christmas Eve Dinner has become more than a meal over the years since October Larsen planned and executed the first such holiday meal three years ago.

Larsen, owner of D’Angelo’s Italian Restaurant, provides a free meal to the local homeless population for Christmas. This year it was pasta, corn, salad, rolls, dessert and beverages served Monday under the ramada at Community Park.

The annual dinner began as a way for Larsen’s daughters, now ages 12 and 13, to develop a sense of empathy by helping others.

Apparently it worked. This year, her children, other members of their AYSO girls soccer team and some of those girls’ parents were seen helping with the fourth annual effort to feed and assist at least 100 people.

And there were smiles all around.

Rounding out the army of volunteers were many familiar faces who spend a lot of time with local homeless people and a few residents who just came to help the hosts and the guests.

There was music and plenty of tables for people to socialize while enjoying their food. Other tables were stacked with clothing, blankets and toys donated by community members over recent weeks.

Hygiene bags were handed out. Some came from Family Care Home Health and Hospice.

The student council at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center raised $1,200 to purchase socks, beanies and jackets. And the Bullhead City Fire Department donated toys, Larsen said.

Among the items made available was an aluminum walker that had gotten a lot of use. One of the lunch guests added it to the healthy collection of things for people to take with them because she was able to replace it with a much better model.

“A guy said to me ‘Would you like a new walker?’ ” said Melinda Harder. “I saw it and broke down crying. I needed a win.”

Harder and her husband came to the Southwest from North Dakota looking for a change after Melinda’s mother died a few months ago. However, a major problem arose for the couple once they arrived. They didn’t realize ahead of time that it would be so difficult to find an affordable place to live.

“We should have planned better,” she admitted.

Her husband is employed. They came west because of the job offer. The couple live in their van and continue trying to find some sort of more permanent housing. They are considering a move into a used RV. It might prove difficult for Melinda to get in and out of such a living space because she has a birth defect that makes walking very difficult, even after numerous corrective surgeries.

James Hamilton, a soccer dad from Fort Mohave, brought the cherry red walker to give away to someone at the park because no one in their home had a need for it any longer.

His mother-in-law, who died a couple of years ago, used it to get around. His wife wasn’t ready to part with the walker so it sat in their garage — until Monday.

“My mother-in-law would have wanted to make sure it went to the right person,” Hamilton said. “It did.”

Melinda was a little conflicted because she was using her mother’s walker. But the one Hamilton offered had a seat, was more appropriately sized for her height and “is so pretty,” Harder said.

Her mother’s walker was sized for a woman who stood only 4 feet, 8 inches tall. Harder is a few inches taller at 5-1. She had a similar walker years before but its brakes failed and became hard to control.

“I’m just floored about this,” she added. “Of course, the brakes work perfectly.”

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