A slew of celebrities and elected officials are serving Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and others in need throughout Los Angeles County today.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is among the volunteers at the Fred Jordan Mission's annual Thanksgiving banquet. Organizers expected to serve 3,000 pounds of turkey, 80 gallons of gravy, 585 pounds of green beans, 560 pounds of candied yams, 400 pumpkin pies, and 220 gallons of fruit punch to over 2,000 homeless men, women, and children.
Villaraigosa was also scheduled to volunteer at The Midnight Mission's annual Thanksgiving Celebration. Other volunteers include actors Dick Van Dyke and Anthony Hopkins. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and AEG President Tim Leiweke are both volunteering, temporarily putting aside their feud over whether AEG should compensate t theey for the cost of Michael Jackson's memorial.
Jane Kaczmarek and The Biggest Loser host and Days of Our Lives star Alison Sweeney were among the expected volunteers for the 33rd annual "Thanksgiving-In-The-Park" in Pasadena's Central Park.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is serving meals to the homeless and others at Salem Lutheran Church and School's "Reach Out and Serve Someone" in Glendale.
The Vision Project and the Westside Thanksgiving Day Dinner Committee is providing the homeless with a meal, flu shots and medical care, eye drops, glasses, clothing, blanekts, and haircuts at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
For the 31st year, the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood is providing free Thanksgiving meals for the underprivileged, "struggling and/or lonely" comics, actors, writers, directors, others in the entertainment community, and anyone who is alone for the holidays.
Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village is serving Thanksgiving meals for the ninth year in a sit-down restaurant style to about 800 people, including families and individuals supported by area homeless shelters and food banks.
The first official Thanksgiving was held in the Virginia Colony on Dec. 4, 1619. The traditional meal stems from one held in 1621 by the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth, Mass.
The Continental Congress issued the nation's first official Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1777. President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789, his first year in office. He declared a national thanksgiving holiday for the newly ratified Constitution, so people may thank God for "affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness" and for having "been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, particularly the national one now lately instituted."
The first four presidents combined to issue six Thanksgiving proclamations. The tradition ended in 1815. However, Abraham Lincoln reinstituted the tradition in 1863 in an attempt to heal the divisions caused by the Civil War. Every president since has made an official Thanksgiving proclamation.
In this year's Thanksgiving proclamation, President Barack Obama said, "As we gather once again among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow citizens in need of a helping hand.
"This is a time for us to renew our bonds with one another and we can fulfill that commitment by serving our communities and our nation throughout the year."