Millie Ramirez believes in helping out those who are less fortunate. So much so, that for the past seven years, she's set up and run a food bank in front of her Glendale, Ariz., home.
And that makes the City of Glendale upset. In the last two months, Ramirez has received three notices from the city telling her to stop feeding the hungry. If she fails to shut down the food bank, say officials, she faces fines and possible arrest.
A city spokesperson told ABC15 that Glendale ordinances prohibit leaving furniture or appliances in public view.
Since the do-gooder's front yard food bank includes shelving and a mobile ice-cream freezer, officials say she's technically afoul of the law, even though she sets up and takes down the equipment every day.
“I’ve been there. I’ve been down to where I have nothing and there wasn’t anyone around to help,” Ramirez told azfamily.com. “And if I can help why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t anybody help?”
She estimates the donated food she collects and distributes feeds to about 50 people a day.
Having received her third and final notice, The Rutherford Institute, a national civil liberties organization that provides free legal services, has offered its assistance.
The institute has requested the city provide a formal, written apology to Ramirez, along with assurances she can continue with her charity. It is also seeking renewed training for law enforcement officials regarding Glendale City Code.
"Were the provision properly interpreted as City officials have applied it to Ms. Ramirez," the Institute said in a released statement, "then it could also be used to outlaw tables used for occasional lemonade stands and yard sales, as well as items regularly used outdoors in residential neighborhoods—garden hoses, lawn tools, watering cans, signage, picnic blankets and baskets, children’s toys, bicycles, etc."
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