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Celebrity chefs, actors, volunteers and politicians serve a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner to LA Homeless on Skid Row

This story was first published on Examiner.com
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3,500 Skid Row residents l

3,500 Skid Row residents line up for a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner at the LA Mission.

For nearly 80 years, the LA Mission has been reaching out to help the less fortunate on Skid Row. On this Thanksgiving Eve, it was even more special for some 3,500 homeless neighbors treated to a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, thanks to 500 people involved near Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.  There nearly 45,000 men, women, and children in LA, who have no place to call home. This week HUD said LA now has the largest homeless population in the country.

Tons of food in b

Tons of food in b

The Mission’s sit-down midday meal offered thousands of homeless a unique dining experience. Hollywood Celebrities and local political leaders, including LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  The Mission welcomes its Skid Row friends and neighbors every year on the day before Thanksgiving to relax for a while and celebrate with Mission volunteers. Not present last year were so many tents put up within an arm’s reach of the Mission. Sidewalks surrounding the area on Skid Row are almost at two rows of tents in some areas keeping the homeless out the cold, which recently has dipped into the lower 40’s in LA.

“On behalf of the Wells Fargo volunteers that helped today, I’d like to say how grateful we are to have had this chance to support the homeless people and families living on Skid Row with a Thanksgiving Meal,” said Herb Smith, president, LA Mission. Wells Fargo has also donated $50,000 to support year-round services to the homeless beyond the holiday meals.

Talented celebrity chefs lead by Michael Voltaggio, owner of ink; Steve Samson of Sotto; Ray Garcia, of Broken Spanish and BS Taqueri and Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman, rolled up their sleeves  to brine and roast more than a ton of turkey breast. The menu included: 700 pounds of chestnut and mushroom stuff.  The chefs also cooked 80 gallons of country-style turkey sausage gravy, hundreds of pounds of fresh green beans with sage and onions, pecan crusted yams, homemade cranberry sauce, 4,000 dinner rolls and 600 pumpkin pies, topped with cinnamon pecan whipped cream. “We are thankful that Chef Michael Voltaggio keeps coming back every year and handpicks his team of top chefs to create recipes for a lavish holiday meal,” said Smith.

Niecy Nash among the celebs serving turkey and all the trimmings at the LA MIssion today.

Niecy Nash among the celebs serving turkey and all the trimmings at the LA Mission today.

A short list of some of the celebrities on the serving line and helping in the Kitchen included: Singer Mary Wilson (Supremes); Frankie Grande, half-brother to singer Ariana Grande, who recently judge America’s Best Dance Crew and appeared on Big Brother last year; Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., Fifth Dimension and LA Mission board members; Niecy Nash, Scream Queens on Fox and known for reality TV shows; Laura Regan, Minority Report on Fox and the movie Unbreakable to name a few.

Victor Lozan and

LA Mission’s Victor Lozana and Chaplain Keith Newton keep the crowds under control for a Turkey Dinner.

The meal is served in an outdoor dining room created on 5th Street in front of the Mission, downtown LA, the heart of Skid row. In the closed off portion of the street, separate large tents are set up for food service, foot washing and giveaways. gorgeous floral creations were placed on each table adding to the Thanksgiving holiday spirit.


The Los Angeles Christian Health Centers provided food washing and foot health exams to nearly 400 of the day’s guests They also got a new pair of socks. In addition to getting their feet washed, doctors, nurses and other medical staff did minor procedures to relieve foot problems. Those with more serious health issues were referred to the clinic for appointments. The clinic partners with the Mission to provide medical service for area residents. The Los Angeles County Dept. of Health was also on hand to provide free flu shots and TB tests.  Some 2,000 tarps and about 1,200 blankets were also distributed to the needy at the event. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians supplied turkeys while King’s Hawaiian donated dinner rolls and Bonert’s Slice of Pie donated the delicious pies.

The LA Mission has served the people on Skid Row, for eight decades. They provide emergency services such as shelter, food, clothing, as well as professional medical and dental services. The Mission offers long-term residential rehab programs including education, professional mental health counseling, job training/ placement and transitional housing. “The kindness of strangers blesses our endeavors every day,” explained Smith. “This ministry’s work would not be possible without the tremendous help we receive from our city. We want to thank everyone who gives to the Mission and serves to make today possible,” he said.

The Mission was started as a soup kitchen for the depression era men in 1936.  The Mission still serves three separate meals daily and provides emergency shelter, but its primary work is helping men and women to restore their lives and get back to the business of life. For more about LA Mission visit: http://losangelesmissioin.org