Christmas Eve is a time for presents and Holiday cheer, and Skid Row was no different than any other neighborhood Thursday as the Los Angeles Mission served food and gifts to thousands of guests.
Thanks to donations from JAKKS Pacific and Disney as well as from other companies and individuals, children walked or toddled away with toys, games and other Christmas gifts. Everyone was given a new jacket thanks to One Warm Coat and Aéropostale.
Stars that helped at the Los Angeles Mission on Thursday included Kate Linder, Bonnie Hunt, Corbin Bleu (High School Musical), Roxy Olin (Brothers and Sisters), Carolyn Hennesy (Cougartown), Stephanie Pratt (The Hills), Boo Boo Stewart (Twilight Eclipse), Donal Logue (The Patriot), Gilles Marini (Sex and the City), Victor Webster (Melrose Place), Rick Yune (Ninja Assassin), and Jeremy London (Rain from Stars).
“We love Christmas at the Los Angeles Mission,” said Herb Smith, President of the Los Angeles Mission. “Just to see the joy in the eyes of the children is enough, but the appreciation of parents is gratifying as well. With high unemployment and economic distress, children’s desires are often overlooked as stretched dollars go to food and essentials. This event helps those families a lot.”
The holidays are a time of blessings, and with the blessings of many supporters the Mission was able to provide about 3,000 thousand Christmas dinners to the homeless, hand out thousands of toys to hundreds of children, and provide Christmas cheer to both guests and volunteers.
“JAKKS Pacific is proud to again support the efforts of the LA Mission this holiday season by providing our JAKKS Cares Crew of volunteers and a donation of toys for their Christmas Eve event,” said Genna Rosenberg, SVP of Corporate Communications, Investor Relations & Philanthropy. “There are so many people in need, more than ever before, and the work of the LA Mission is vital to our community. Through our partnership with LA Mission, we hope to bring the gift of a smile to many children’s faces on Christmas Eve.”
In addition to the gifts, Santa greeted the children, and there was snow flurries flying on the main street of Skid Row. New Leash on Life “Lend a Paw” dogs were on hand to visit with the Mission’s guests. The therapy dogs were at one time “homeless” themselves – having been rescued and trained to provide services to people in need.
The Los Angeles Mission highlighted a new way to donate to the organization. Text2Give allows cell phone users to text the word gift to 40579, and make a one-time donation of $5.00 to the Mission. Users can make up to 5 donations a month.
Thursday’s menu included roast chicken, tasty glazed ham and asparagus roll, 3-cheese macaroni, mixed vegetables, dinner rolls, butter and jelly. Dessert was pie.
Christmas Eve morning started early for the staff and volunteers and the Mission. There were last minute gift donations to wrap, and the big dinner to prepare. Starting at about 6:00 AM Fifth Street from Wall Street to San Pedro was closed to vehicular traffic and the street set up started.
“Many service providers to the homeless in Los Angeles are seeing increases in the number of people coming for help,” said Smith. “We track a number of indicators, and one of those is the number of meals we serve. We are providing about 8-10 percent more meals now than we were a year ago – nearly 600,000 meals in all. More people are coming for food boxes as well – people who may have a place to live, but their income isn’t enough to pay rent and utilities and provide sufficient food. We provide more than a meal – food is obviously important, but we want to assist in those on the street by helping them restore their lives to something better. The Los Angeles Mission is doing everything it can to help – but our resources are reduced as well.”
“Our donors make it possible to help this community,” Smith continued. “But we know a difficult economy makes it hard to make the decision to give money to a charity. We thank those who have continued to support the work here on Skid Row.”
Many who came to Wednesday’s event live in temporary housing in the Skid Row area, others in shelters, and many came from the streets. All are greeted by staff and volunteers with love and served a hearty meal and given holiday treats. As they waited to be seated and served, the guests enjoyed holiday music from a number of local musical groups.