Events to Assist Los Angeles County's Growing Homeless Population Set

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Christmas Day in Los Angeles County will include efforts in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Pasadena to help the growing homeless population along with traditional church services.

Approximately 2,000 homeless men, women and children will be served a Christmas brunch at The Midnight Mission, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

There will also be a Santa's Village where thousands of homeless and near-homeless children will be able to select toys of their choice and meet Santa Claus, Berkovich said.

Volunteers expected to serve food include actress Nicolette Sheridan and Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee.

The Midnight Mission is seeking donations of $5 to $10 to help it cover the costs of the meals. Donations can be made by texting ``Meals'' to 71777, Berkovich said.

Organizers have the goal of serving 1,000 meals of roast turkey to hungry and homeless individuals at the Hollywood United Methodist Church. The church, which has long partnered with nearby Temple Israel of Hollywood has added a third partner, the ILM Foundation, in an attempt to increase the number of people served.

Rabbi John Rosove, the Rev. Kathy Cooper Ledesma and Umar Hakim, the executive director of the foundation whose initials stand for intellect, love and mercy, turned to social media, creating the hashtag #Feed1000 to ``spread our invitation to Christmas dinner to those in your orbit who might not otherwise hear of it,'' Ledesma said.

In recent years the congregations served about 600 people on Christmas Day, while more than 800 were fed last year, according to Rosove.

Children will receive toys and adults will get personal care items.

Union Station Homeless Services expects to serve more than 500 plates of food to individuals and families experiencing homelessness or poverty, senior citizens, those who are alone for Christmas or unable to afford a holiday meal at the second annual Holiday at the Station at the Union Station Adult Center in Pasadena.

Union Station Homeless Services is the San Gabriel Valley's largest social service agency assisting homeless and very low-income adults and families. It provides meals every day, typically about 100,000 in a year, according to Dana Bean, the director of development and communications.

The organization helped about 500 people move into housing in 2016 with ``over 95 percent of them were still housed'' in 2017, Bean said.

The Laugh Factory in Hollywood will conduct its 38th annual free Christmas Day Feast for anyone away from home, those who might be lonely, homeless or in need of a warm meal, a hug or a laugh.

Top comics will join other celebrities in helping serve each guest a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

Comedians will perform live shows following meals served at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Guests are asked to come one hour before the meal is served because all seating and entrance is first come, first served.

Los Angeles County has the second largest population of homeless people of any region in the nation behind New York City. The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority put the amount at 57,794, a 23 percent increase from 2016.

Traditional Masses and church services celebrating the birth of Jesus will be held at churches throughout the region, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez will celebrate the 12:30 p.m. Spanish- language Christmas Day Mass with the Spanish-language choir leading in song. The Mass will be streamed live at

English-language Christmas Day Masses will be celebrated at the cathedral at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Gomez will also celebrate a Mass at the Men's Central Jail for inmates.

``At Christmas we remember what the saints know -- that God is our Father and he loves and cares for us as his children,'' Gomez said. ``We need to lean more on God, with absolute confidence. Jesus comes as a child to teach us to trust as children.

``As Jesus taught us, we need to look to him as our Father, turn to him for all that is good and true and beautiful. At Christmas, we need to continue to stay close in prayer to the victims of the wildfires in our region and all of the tragedies that we have seen in our country and in the world this year.''

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl said the best way for Angelenos to spend Christmas is ``with friends and family out in some fun place.''

``We are so lucky to have weather that allows people to go to the beach on Christmas, or take a hike, or if you crave a more conventional winter wonderland experience to go skating at one of our outdoor skating rinks,'' Kuehl told City News Service.

Kuehl also said it is ``important to remember that some are alone and try to make an extra effort to visit or call, and to renew our commitment to bring peace, love and justice into the world.''

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