LAUGHLIN, NEV.– Santa Claus has a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer to haul his toys all around the globe, but for Christmas dinner, he uses an Avi Hotel and Casino haul truck– at least in the Tri-State area. That’s what showed up at the Colorado River Food Bank Monday morning to drop off 500 turkeys for distribution to less fortunate families in the Bullhead City/Laughlin area.
“Never have we gotten 500 turkeys all at once,” said food bank director Darryl Dauenhauer.
Not only did the turkeys make their way to the food bank, but so did the chairman of the Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe, several members of the tribal council, and employees from the tribally-owned and operated Avi Casino. They helped unload the turkeys into the walk-in refrigerator at the food bank.
“We have a great big walk-in freezer in the back that is now fully stocked with turkeys so that everyone can enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner,” Dauenhauer exclaimed.
The donation was only part of the tribal council’s massive community-wide donation. A total of 3,500 turkeys were delivered Monday to food banks through the Tri-State area, including 500 turkeys each for the cities of Kingman and Lake Havasu City.
“The community has done so much for us,” said Ft. Mohave Tribal Chairman Timothy Williams. “We wanted to make sure to do something for the community.”
The tribe, in conjunction with the staff at the Avi, decided to look for the best way to contribute this holiday season and turkeys seemed to be in high demand.
“We called around the local food banks and found there was a real need for turkeys,” Williams said. “They actually had a lot of the sides, but not a lot of the meat.”
Once the need was determined, the tribe and the casino staff went to work. It took quite a bit of work to determine what would satisfy most of the needs among the various food banks, and when their calculations were complete, 3,500 seemed like the appropriate donation that needed to be made. For tribal members, especially those that have lived in this area a long time, the donation was a true payback to the community for the assistance given to the tribe during the lean times that most tribal members experienced before starting all of their business enterprises, including the casinos.
“Fortunately, the tribe is in a position to have the opportunity to give back to the community,” Williams said. “It wasn’t always that way.”
The food bank in Laughlin, which provides food to both sides of the Colorado River, estimates that 650 families will rely on donations to their facility for their annual Christmas dinner. Dauenhauer says it’s the same number of people at Thanksgiving, and the number keeps increasing.
“There is an ever increasing demand in our area around Christmas time,” he added.
Donations like the one provided this week by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe make it easier to meet that demand.