Los Angeles

Food, Family and a Toy Wonderland: It's Christmas at the Midnight Mission

Families began lining up Monday night for the annual holiday celebration

Children picked out gifts in a Santa's Village filled with thousands of toys during the a Christmas brunch Tuesday at the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles.

Families began lining up Monday night for the celebration, which featured a Santa's Village where children could pick out toys for the holiday.

"We appreciate The Midnight Mission because unfortunately we can't afford the toys of these days," said Wayne Mingo, who came to the mission with seven children from his family. "Toys are expensive."

Mingo said he and his family members were "having fun, socializing with other people" in the line.

The Christmas brunch and toy giveaway "will provide our homeless and near-homeless guests not only with a traditional holiday meal, but also with the emotional satisfaction that comes with the opportunity to celebrate a national holiday," said Georgia Berkovich, the mission's director of public affairs. "Of the many services The Midnight Mission provides to our unique community, one of the most important is the sense of family we offer to those who often feel lost and forgotten during the holidays and other days of celebration."

The mission is seeking donations of $5 to $10 to defray the costs of the Christmas brunch meals. Donations can be made by texting the keyword "Meals" to 71777 from any cellphone.

Organizers of the annual interfaith Christmas Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry at Hollywood United Methodist Church hope to serve 1,500 people. More than 100 roasted turkeys with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and a host of desserts will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to retirees, homeless people, working families with young children and other hungry and needy individuals and families, organizers said.

Diners will receive bags filled with personal care items, new socks, hats and blankets. Children will receive toys, their choice of a book and have the opportunity to have a family picture taken with Santa Claus.

The Christmas Dinner was originally a project of the Hollywood Interfaith Coalition, whose churches had been serving Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the coalition's Jewish participants thought it would be a nice idea for the Jewish participants to take over the serving of Christmas Dinner so the members of the coalition celebrating and observing Christmas could stay home with their families.

Temple Israel of Hollywood became the lead organizer and host of the event in the 1980s.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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