Simple acts of kindness can go a long way.
Such is the case for Hattie Anthony, the Angel of Larimer Street as she would later be known as when she was inspired to feed the poor after seeing a homeless man dig through trash on Larimer Street for food, back in 1980.
This wasn’t trendy Denver, long before Lower Downtown became the trendy destination it’s evolved into today, Larimer Street was a place many avoided.
“I thought that was just about the worst,” she said in an article remembering this time. “That next Thursday, I cooked up a batch of beans and parked as near the original garbage can as I could. A man came to look in the trash can, I just asked him if he wanted something to eat. He did, and that’s how this all began.
For years after that she managed to find a way to provide a meal once every Thursday from the back of her car.
On Dec. 21, 1984, the Rocky Mountain News wrote about her efforts that started with handing out sandwiches to offering 300 a veritable Holiday feast of turkey, dressing, gravy, buttered carrots, hard rolls, cookies and pumpkin cake cookies with whipped cream.
Hattie told the Rocky’s reporter that she knew hot it felt to be hungry. She was the oldest of eight and grew up poor in Hooks, Texas. Her father was a baptist minister who passed on the spirit of charity for others.
“We struggled but we always had enough to eat. And my father shared. Whenever we’d kill a hog or chickens, my father’d always send us kids running a bit of meat to someone who didn’t have any. Sharing was my father’s middle name.”
Hattie and her husband were grandparents at the time she started handing food out to the poor and started the Jerusalem Food Bank, adopted a son and were foster parents to Native American children.
The Angel of Larimer Street passed away in May 2008 and on her deathbed she told her daughters, “I did my best.”
Her daughter said that even in the nursing home she was trying to feed people.
“She’d tell me on the way in to visit to stop and pick up some food for the people. I asked, ‘What about their diets?’ She said, ‘We can eat whatever we want to.’ ”