FARMINGTON >> Dewayne Harris thinks the area's bad economy was the reason he couldn't find a Christmas dinner in Farmington on Wednesday.

Two years ago, at the Civic Center, Harris remembers the Christmas dinner local businessman Tom Dugan held for the community. There was food, he said, and wrapped presents. Organizers would even size people for jackets and shoes, he said.

But not this year. Harris said he couldn't find any church, food bank or community center serving dinners. Wednesday the doors were closed and locked to Pinon Hills Community Church, Farmington First Assembly of God, the ECHO food bank and the Farmington Civic Center.

Dewayne Harris, of Upper Fruitland, sits under a tree near the Civic Center on Christmas Day in Farmington.
Dewayne Harris, of Upper Fruitland, sits under a tree near the Civic Center on Christmas Day in Farmington. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

Maybe people don't have the money to provide meals, he said.

Harris sat in the sun outside the civic center on a wall with his friend. He was waiting for another friend in a car to drive him home to Fruitland.

"I didn't even see anything for Thanksgiving," he said.

Down on Main Street, Farmington resident Rodney Croker was walking with his girlfriend and another friend, who was snapping photos with his Canon camera. Croker said it's odd there are no churches or food banks that he knows of hosting dinners.

There are many in Farmington who live on the streets, he said. He also remembers the extravagant Christmas dinners Dugan threw.

"Even tiny towns do it," he said. "I'm surprised Farmington doesn't do it."

Farmington has an obligation to provide for its less fortunate, he said, but it depends on their situation. Women in a shelter deserve free meals. So do those who could not prevent their poverty.

But if a man is lazy, he said, he does not deserve the meal.

Michael Zarate has been without work since he moved back to Farmington from Amarillo, Texas.

No matter how hard he tries, Zarate said, he can't find a job pouring cement, his trained field.

And he can't find a dinner on Christmas either, a special day for him, and for most, he said.

Leaning against the cold metal railing on East Main Street, Zarate said he could picture families around a tree with presents under its branches decorated with shining bulbs.

But he said he will not experience that because this year he is broke.

"It's Christmas. But what does one do?" he said. "I don't know what to say or do about it, other than just go with the tide. That's all one can do."

He saw his cousin earlier, but his teenage son and his son's mother live in Colorado, he said, adding that he won't see them for Christmas. He said it hurts "more than a person knows."

He did hear of a dinner being served somewhere in the city -- that's why he walked the 8 miles into town -- but he said he wasn't paying attention and now he can't remember where it is.

"It's not that I don't know how to listen. It's not that I don't know how to take care of myself," he said.

He will sleep as he does most nights at The Roof, he said, a Salvation Army operated shelter.

Back at the civic center, Harris said he would like work too. But he's been unable to get it since he injured his leg.

He rolled up his right pant leg to show a swollen ankle. He was an iron worker, he said, until the injury.

He plans to learn how to type so he can work on a computer, a job that does not require the use of his bad right leg.

"If you know this," he said, using two fingers to poke at an invisible keyboard, "you can get a job at a Walmart or a Target or anywhere."

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.