LOS ANGELES —
Volunteers, including some Hollywood celebrities, brought holiday cheer on Christmas Eve to residents of a poor Los Angeles neighborhood known as Skid Row.
The Christmas festivities at the Los Angeles Mission featured entertainment for the children and a holiday meal, served by volunteers who included celebrities like actor Harry Hamlin.
Later, the children received Christmas gifts in the annual holiday outreach program by the rescue mission, which serves the homeless of Skid Row.
Mission president Herb Smith said the need is visible at the holidays, but is there year-round.
“People are hungry 365 days a year. They need the education, they need the emergency services, the beds and shelter. They need the workforce development and cares that we’re able to help encourage them. And we don't just do that on Christmas and Thanksgiving,” said Smith.
The holiday cheer is welcome for the poor and homeless, said Luis Beltran, one of the mission's chaplains. He once lived on the street himself, addicted to crack cocaine.
“After being out there in the streets, where you're not sleeping well and you're not eating well, to actually come here and do a real meal, it does something to you. And it kind of lets you know that there are people that care,” said Beltran.
Beltran said that caring outreach is especially important for the children, who also come here in search of holiday cheer.