So. Cal. Invites Homeless to Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

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Los Angeles Convention Center

by Beverly Ventriss – 

The So. Calif. Division will provide a holiday meal and entertainment program on Thanksgiving Eve at the Los Angeles Convention Center for 2,000 homeless from Skid Row and from Salvation Army programs for the homeless.

Adults, including some families, will be brought by bus to the Convention Center for the inaugural event. Commissioner David Edwards, joined by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and other prominent business and community leaders, is planning to attend. Entertainment scheduled includes the world famous Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. The Harbor Light Gospel Choir will also perform and holiday music will be provided by a brass ensemble.

In previous years, the Harbor Light Center in downtown Los Angeles provided a holiday meal the day before Thanksgiving for its residents and those living on the streets of Skid Row.

“Doing something different had been discussed for a number of years. We felt it was important to get the ball rolling this year,” said Divisional Social Services Consultant Steve Allen. Although the plan was to move the holiday feeding to Thanksgiving Day, in a brainstorming session with the public relations committee of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Advisory Board, the idea of a “Thanksgiving Eve” event was born.

Drawing comparisons to that of Christmas Eve, the purpose of the event is to present a meaningful and festive evening, one of bringing people together to provide a memorable experience of joy and caring.

With a seating for 10 at each, 200 tables will be hosted by a volunteer responsible for serving every person at his or her table from one of 10 food stations that are also staffed by volunteers.

“This is not about long buffet lines and putting a scoop of mashed potatoes on somebody’s plate who then walks away. We want to provide the setting for real interaction and conversation, the experience we feel those we serve–and the volunteers–are, in their hearts, seeking,” said Allen.

Future plans for the Thanksgiving Eve event include increasing the number served each year, up to 5,000. This year’s corporate donors are Bank of America and Pepsi-Cola.

This Thanksgiving holiday the Southern California Division will serve more than 22,000 holiday dinners. During the Christmas season, more than 330,000 are expected to receive some type of assistance including meals, food baskets, toys, clothes and other forms of service.

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