Thanksgiving came early Saturday at the Union Rescue Mission, which welcomed those in need of a meal into their home for the annual Thanksgiving dinner.And elsewhere, a group of kids from the Harbor Hills housing development got a big surpris: a visit from Laker Pau Gasol. Michelle Valles reports from downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.
Saturday was a special day for a large group of kids at the Harbor Hills public housing development.
"We’re waiting for a surprise visit from somebody from the Lakers," said resident Elizabeth Carrasco.
Moments later, a white Porsche rolled up and out stepped Lakers center/forward Pau Gasol -- all 7-foot-1-inch of him.
“It’s exciting,” said 9-year old Makiya Vicks. “I almost fainted.”
Gasol was there to distribute Thanksgiving turkeys as part of the team’s “A Season of Giving” campaign. The turkeys were purchased by the Lakers organization with the assistance of Food Finders, a multi-regional food bank and food rescue program.
“It’s so important to give back to people who don't have the means to enjoy the holiday as much as some of us do,” Gasol said.
The Lakers star took pictures with fans, signed basketballs and helped pass out Butterball turkeys to grateful Lomita families.
“I'm thankful for family, for food and for being brung into this world,” added Vicks.
The gratitude could be felt all along Skid Row as well. That’s where the Union Rescue Mission was giving out its annual Thanksgiving meal.
Some 4,000 guests lined up as 250 volunteers and sponsors served smiles and warm Thanksgiving meals. It is part of a 121-year-old tradition.
“This is the season where everyone needs to get together, because we're not promised next year,” said Roddy Davis as he waited in line for his meal. “So we’ve got to celebrate this year.”