Thanks and giving at annual Midnight Mission Thanksgiving on LA's Skid Row

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About 350 volunteers spent Thursday serving meals to people down on their luck at Los Angeles’ Midnight Mission on Skid Row. Mission officials estimate that they're serving about 2,500 Thanksgiving meals Thursday.

Mission spokeswoman Mai Lee says volunteers have prepared to distribute meals — complete with turkey, sweet potatoes and assorted pies — for about a week.

“You’re looking at about 3,000 pounds of turkey and 30 gallons of turkey gravy," Lee said. "So lots of work, sorting clothes, donated clothing, canned goods, all that is being done today, and we’re giving all that away to anyone who shows up.”

Lee says hundreds of people started lining up for a free meal at about 6 o’clock Thursday morning. The outdoor event included a live rock band. Celebrities, including longtime Mission supporter Dick Van Dyke, showed up to offer food, fellowship and encouragement.

Robert Harper lives there. He says he’s been on the receiving end of meals like this before, but this year he chose to volunteer.

“I don’t have to be out here," Harper said. "I could be up in my room watching movies, doing some homework — I’m also in college. I go to Los Angeles City College, but I want to take some time out here to show not just the people, but also the staff that so blessed me and let them know ‘hey, I’m still a part of this’ and I wanna do my part to contribute.”

Harper says he’s about to graduate from The Midnight Mission’s year-long drug and alcohol recovery program.

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