One in seven homeless people in Los Angeles end up in Skid Row — that accounts for over 4,000 homeless people, living right in the heart of the city’s central business district.
And that is why the Los Angeles Mission was initially set up 82 years ago, as a soup kitchen and Christian outreach centre to help homeless men on Skid Row. Now, the charity helps both men and women and has served over 400,000 meals in 2018 so far.
For Thanksgiving this year, the Mission was joined on Wednesday by an array of artists and comedians including Pharrell Williams, Kevin Hart, and Minnie Driver to serve 3,500 meals.
“My daughter goes, ‘You know, Dad, Thanksgiving is here, but this year why don’t we try to do something different? Why don’t we help? Why don’t we go and provide Thanksgiving for others?’” Hart told Global News. “So I said, ‘You know what baby? That’s a good idea, so we donated $50,000 to the Mission and came down.’”
The Los Angeles Mission was the first facility in the Skid Row area designed to help the city’s homeless, and offers a year-long recovery program, followed by job and housing support.
Hart, Williams, and Driver were joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, model Garcelle Beauvais, and comedian Loni Love.
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actress Nia Long was also there with her two sons, Massai Zhivago Dorsey II and Kez Sunday Udoka. When Uncle Phil said that “of all the holidays, thanksgiving is my favourite”, hopefully he was thinking of initiatives like this.
"You give back, no matter what — no matter if you have a little, you give whatever you can,” said Driver.
Thanks to all that came out to serve over 10k folks on skid row for @thelamission ... @GarcelleB@Pharrell@driverminnie@ericgarcetti@enikohart and @kevinhart4real ‘s children Heaven and Hendrix all served while #kevinhart flapped his gums and supervised!!😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/Ml2JCFhSu5— Loni Love (@LoniLove) November 21, 2018
It’s so great to see people like @kevinhart4real and @garcelleb coming together to help our neighbors. Thank you! #SkidRowThanksgiving#everyday#giving#donations#nonprofit#homeless#charity#helpingothers#volunteer#fundraising#ministrypic.twitter.com/JXdJe1MdeW— Los Angeles Mission (@TheLAMission) November 21, 2018
According to the Mission, over 340 litres of turkey gravy was served, along with 2,500 pounds of mashed potatoes, 2,100 pounds of turkey breast, and the meals were finished with 600 homemade sweet potato pies.
“It means that even the rich can help the poor — it means a lot when you’re homeless and you don’t have anything,” Esa, a man who attended the dinner from San Fernando Valley, told Global News.
Alongside Hart, donors to the Mission included Wells Fargo Bank — who also supplied 200 volunteers — King’s Hawaiian bakery company and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, who donated 200 turkeys.
“I will say I’m happy to be a helping hand, but I think that the people who are involved with the Mission on a daily basis, that are literally out here doing the work day-to-day, hands-on — those are the people that deserve the applause,” Hart said.
Williams will perform at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Dec. 2. He will be joined by Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Ed Sheeran, and more. You can check out the rest of the lineup here.