LA Mission Santa and Mrs. Claus
The joy of the holidays is often overshadowed by those who lack the fortune which has blessed many of us. Going down to the Los Angeles Mission (303 E. 5th St,) for the annual Christmas lunch and giveaway, I was overwhelmed by the dim reality of skid row's streets as I went from the court and refurbished center to the day hotels, discount stores, and people pushing baskets containing their worldly belongings.
LA Mission - Jennifer Love Hewitt from The Ghost Whisperer
By 8 am the line for the free lunch being served at 11 am was around the corner. They were prepared for 3,000 and they would probably serve even more. All varieties of people came out for Christmas cheer: adults, children, disabled, homeless, hopeless and helpless.
LA Mission: Jason Ritter and Melissa Hart
The center is not only serving the needy for one frigid night, offering just one cleansing shower, or one hot meal. Its outreach program aims for a long-term solution for those who are homeless. Take Ronald for example. Coming to Los Angeles from Detroit, he had fallen into the habit of drugs and drink and was too ashamed to return home when he realized that he was failing to achieve his dream. At a loss, he sought help from the Mission.
LA Mission Sally Kirkland and participant
Reluctant at first because he had not "developed a relationship with the Lord" and was afraid to commit during the interview with the chaplain, Ronald was finally prescribed 30 days of down time where he was not allowed to communicate with any of his old buddies or get back into old habits. He cleaned up and was soon in one of the many occupational skills programs offered by the Mission.
LA Mission: James Pickens Jr
Now he is a regular worker here and soon about to graduate as a computer technician. For many thousands of others, accessing the emergency services is the first step of changing their lives, overcoming their personal challenges and regaining their self-respect.
LA Mission Pam Hasselhoff, Melissa Hart
There were more than 300 volunteers today honored with the privilege of serving the homeless. Ordinary people, and some extraordinary people, many who come not only every year like Bill W (a car salesman from Orange County who realized that we have to give back something of what we receive) or Kathy, who started volunteering weekly while she was on disability and when she recovered realized that her regular job was no longer fulfilling. Kathy signed on to work for the Mission.
LA Mission Melissa Hart, Sallry Kirkland and Tony Potts
Lunch included roast chicken, three-cheese macaroni, mixed vegetables, dinner rolls and pie. It was accompanied by music from several performers, and included the presentation of a $10,000 check from the producers of the movie, 'Living the Dream.'
Los Angeles Mission Jonantan Silverman
At least half the volunteers were celebrities. The lady of the hour, Jennifer Love Hewitt (star of Ghost Whisperer) dished up chicken;
LA Mission Jennifer Love Hewitt serves
Sally Kirkland (featured in the new movie 'Factory Girl' as well as 'Off Mr. Black') and Jason Ritter (son of the brilliant late John and a great actor in his own right) manned the vegetable and macaroni.
LA Mission Sally Kirkland and Jason Ritter
Jonathan Silverman served pies. Melissa Joan Hart, as well as her mother and children, all worked as servers.
LA Mission Tony Potts and Father
Tony Potts came with his daughter and handsome father.
La Mission The Noyd Kids Scotty and Chenille
The Noyd family 7 year old Scotty (Light up your Dreams); sister Cherrile (The Shield and Everyone Loves Chris), brother Erin and mom came to serve.
LA Mission Raoul Julia Levy
Others, like Raul Julia-Levy (Clash) and Suzanne Whang (Las Vegas) served drinks. Edwin Hodge, Aldis Hodge, Gwenda Perez. James Pickens, Jr., David Fralick, Courtnery Draper, Dre Bowie, Alana Curry, Michael Brownlee, Donna D'Errico, Cole Evan Weiss,and Pamela Bach Hasselhoff pitched in with Mayor Antionio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal Allard, City Councilman Dennis Zine.
LA Mission:Dre Bowie serves drinks
Of course the real heroes were the ordinary people like the Franklins and the Levys who brought their whole family down to help and come on a regular basis.
LA Mission:Bill volunteers 11 years running
The Mission provides daily help to the community servicing more than 15,000 a year and need all the help they can get. More information about the mission can be obtained at 213 629 1227, www.losangelesmission.org. Take a tour and volunteer.