Thanksgiving help for the homeless: ‘We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression’

Volunteer Monica Smith serves up a Thanksgiving meal at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles last year.
(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.

The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

Scheduled volunteer servers include gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, entertainer Dick Van Dyke and actress Nicolette Sheridan.


The Midnight Mission is seeking donations of $5 to $10 to help it cover the costs of the meals. Donations can be made by texting “Meals” to 71777, Berkovich said. The mission serves meals seven days a week, distributes hygiene kits after its meal service and conducts drives for food and clothing to distribute to its guests.

Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.

The nearby Fred Jordan Mission expects to serve more than a ton of turkey drumsticks, along with 500 pounds of mashed potatoes, 80 gallons of gravy, hundreds of pounds of traditional cornbread stuffing, 560 pounds of candied yams, 585 pounds of green beans, glazed carrots, spiced peaches, cranberry sauce and 400 pumpkin pies, according to the mission’s Suzanna Choi.

The mission is seeking donations of unwrapped toys worth $15 to $20 each to be given to thousands of poor children for Christmas. The toys can be dropped off at the mission on Thanksgiving or any other day through Dec. 15, Choi said.

Union Station Homeless Services will be serving thousands of meals at its annual Thanksgiving Dinner in the Park at Central Park in Pasadena, continuing a tradition that began in 1972. Donations of store-bought pies will be accepted Thanksgiving morning, CEO John C. Brauer said.

More than 2,000 people will be served a sit-down meal of turkey with trimmings at the 30th annual Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner for San Fernando Valley homeless and low-income families at the Guadalupe Community Center in Canoga Park.



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