7-year-old girl makes Christmas a day to help homeless
BULLHEAD CITY — A local girl opened her heart and her mind after deciding to do something worthwhile for about a dozen homeless people on Christmas morning.
Za’Mayah Williams, 7, provided about a dozen people at Community Park with gifts of food and other essentials.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Za’Mayah brought up the idea of somehow helping homeless people as her family was preparing to leave for work and school one morning. The first-grader attends Diamondback Elementary and her favorite subject is mathematics, said Tasha Davis, her grandmother.
The family created a flyer that was circulated online, at their church and in the community. Beneath a photograph of a smiling Za’Mayah was an explanation about what she wanted to do: “Present the homeless with the gift of love.”
She ponied up her birthday money to buy some things and offered to forgo gifts this year, if necessary, to finance her plan. Davis said her granddaughter always prays for the homeless.
“This year I decided it was better to give than to receive; so, I decided instead of receiving gifts I want to bless someone less fortunate,” the flyer stated.
She asked for donations and included a list of things needed for the two different types of gift bags. Some of the items sought were shampoo, soap, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, lip balm, washcloths, a variety of non-perishable foods, bottled water, packs of instant coffee, anti-bacterial wipes, socks, T-shirts, warm scarves and knit hats.
The family had received some blankets and jackets as well and offered them to anyone in the park who wanted them.
Za’Mayah was a bit cold but ready to get started once she arrived at Community Park before 8 a.m. on Christmas morning. The girl’s father, Arlandis Williams, and Davis brought her and the gift bags. Davis made sure her granddaughter was sufficiently warm by pulling down her shirt and zipping up her jacket. The white trim of a red Santa hat peeped out from under the hood of the little girl’s coat. Her tiny braids were decorated with colorful, flower-shaped hair accessories. She was smiling.
Williams and Davis took turns holding a mobile phone to capture a live feed of the experience and send it through Facebook to family and friends. Costella Brown, a friend of the family, also helped give out the carefully packed resealable bags.
Camping isn’t allowed within city limits but there were some homeless people who had slept nearby in their cars. They were in the park as the sun came up. It was brisk morning with a temperature in the mid-40s. A couple of the men were keeping warm with a fire in one of park’s barbecue grills. Someone had brought a small Christmas tree and it sat atop a picnic table.
Even with her father and grandmother next to her, the little girl became a bit reserved as she walked up to the men and introduced herself.
“Hi, my name is Za’Mayah,” she said.
The men greeted her and the rest of the group. Davis explained that they were there to bring them some gifts for Christmas and invited them to come down to their car so they could hand them out.
Everyone made the short walk to the parking lot and Za’Mayah handed out the gift bags.
One woman sleeping in her car told the family about how she had recently been baptized. One of the men was wearing a Cleveland Browns jacket; he explained that he wasn’t a fan of the team but that it had been given to him so he could stay warm.
Za’Mayah became a bit more talkative as the gift-giving continued.
Gift bags containing food were filled with such things as dry ramen soup, power bars, something sweet such as applesauce or pudding, some protein like Vienna sausages, and packets of coffee and a juice box. There were heavy disposable cups included from which to drink more than once before ultimately throwing them away.
Bags also contained greeting cards from Za’Mayah. Either she or one of the adults handed out the bags to each person. When someone noticed a person in the park they hadn’t spotted earlier, they were beckoned. Once or twice, Za’Mayah and her father walked hand-in-hand toward the people and offered them gifts.
Williams said that he was thrilled that his daughter wanted to give the gifts. He said his own father was community-minded and did such things as hold toy drives and cook big meals to serve people down on their luck.
Her father and grandmother will be keeping some spare gift bags in their vehicles to give out if they see people around the community who might need them. Other items will be given over to The Guardian Foundation.
Za’Mayah is likely to be out in the park again soon with members of the Guardian Foundation. And Davis, who has helped raise her granddaughter since the child was a baby, will be out there with her.
As they were getting into the car, Za’Mayah said that such gift giving “feels good.”