LA Mission celebrates Good Friday with free meals, shoes for homeless


Volunteers from all walks of life were on hand to help out their neighbors on Skid Row, including Star Simpson and her son, who are newly homeless.

"I'm not a bum. I'm just striving and struggling right now," described Simpson. "I cry, it's very hurtful."

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as well as some Hollywood celebrities were expected to attend.

The L.A. Mission shut down an entire city block at 5th and Wall streets for the event. Every inch was necessary to accommodate the expected 4,000 guests, many of whom lined up for hours before the event.

"We're here to help people. This event helps bring focus to the larger community about what we do 365 days a year. At the same time, it meets a specific need for people today that want a meal," said Herbert Smith, CEO of L.A. Mission.

Volunteers showed up at 4 a.m. to get everything ready. With recent news of a specific strain of tuberculosis spreading in Skid Row, finding people to give their time was harder than normal. Still, more than 100 volunteers signed up. Jiovonia Triplett was in charge of all the salad preparations.

"I feel like it was just my obligation to come down here and give to my community. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I have to give back to Los Angeles," said Triplett.

Others handed out more than 1,000 Easter baskets for the children in the crowd. Also, more than 2,000 pairs of new shoes donated by Etnies were handed out to the needy.

Volunteers with the Los Angeles Christian Health Center also washed feet - which has practical and spiritual significance on this Good Friday.

Simpson couldn't be more appreciative.

"I consider it a blessing for those who are really down and out or really don't have nothing or don't know what it feels like to have Easter or have a meal. It's a blessing," she said.

Volunteers will also be handing out hygiene kits and offering tuberculosis vaccines.

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