2020 Thanksgiving


“Mission Without Walls” Serves Homeless on Skid Row and Throughout the Community

Los Angeles, California — Wednesday, November 25, 2020 —This year’s restrictions have ended, for now, the cherished Mission traditional street celebration. No more tents and festive outdoor dining tables so recognized as the Los Angeles Mission the day before Thanksgiving Event. This crazy COVID-19 has changed everything.

However, despite ever-changing rules, the Los Angeles Mission has come up with a way to serve a hot meal to thousands in a safe manner this Thanksgiving. No dining tables – but to-go boxes of delicious holiday favorites, served by well-known personalities and elected leaders.

This annual event is sponsored by the generosity of Wells Fargo Bank and the law firm of Samer, Habbas & Associates.

Hollywood celebrities and local political leaders join together to serve special chef-inspired recipes to people who could use a taste of compassion this season.

The Mission hosts Skid Row neighbors every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. During this time of COVID, the Mission has cobbled together a solution: take-out meals, hygiene kit and blanket distribution, and access to medical support services.

“As we thought about what we could do under current COVID guidelines, our staff came up with multiple ways of serving the holiday meal safely,” said Troy Vaughn, the new president and CEO of the Mission. “We came up with to-go meals. But they didn’t stop there. Mission staff also decided to expand food distribution to include food boxes. Each food box includes Thanksgiving dinner for 4 to 5 people. Some 1500 boxes went out on Friday, November 20 to Watts and Hawaiian Gardens. An additional 1,200 food boxes (each feeding 4 to 5 people) will be distributed to residents of Skid Row housing on Wednesday morning.”

“The need never stops. But the real reason we never stop is because we know that each life is precious to God. We never stop working to reclaim those lost lives. We serve up unconditional love in the form of a meal. Because we know that the path to changing a life often begins with a meal. That first taste of compassion inspires individuals to come and see what else the Mission can do to help them recover and get off the streets. We are determined to prove that today’s meal can open the door to a long-term healing relationship,” says Vaughn.

The Mission also offers services and a residential rehabilitation program for women through the Anne Douglas Center. The center is the brainchild and endowment of Anne Douglas, wife of late actor Kirk Douglas. The Douglases have been by far the Mission’s most generous benefactor over the years.

The Mission is delighted to welcome back Wells Fargo in sponsoring this event. Wells Fargo has faithfully returned for more than dozen years to sponsor Mission Thanksgiving. Wells Fargo’s generous $50,000 donation to the Mission also supports year-round services to the homeless that go well beyond today’s holiday meal.

“The Thanksgiving event serves as a reminder of the great work that the Mission does and how they are always working to help our most vulnerable Angeleno residents,” said Michael Ormonde, Wells Fargo Los Angeles Region Bank President. “At Wells Fargo we understand the overall need and continue to work alongside Los Angeles Mission and other organizations to continue to assist our community.”

The Mission kitchen staff, led by Chef David Thomas, with celebrity chef Michael Voltaggio, has prepared thousands of pounds of food for this gift of a gourmet meal for the homeless. This means preparing nearly a ton of roasted turkey breast. The menu also includes: 800 pounds of mac & cheese, 2,500 pounds of collard greens, 1,800 pounds of turkey stuffing, 90 gallons of gravy, 4,000 servings of fresh cranberry sauce, with thousands of dinner rolls (kindly donated by King’s Hawaiian) and half a ton of peach crisp with whipped cream for dessert.

Every year, well-known entertainment industry stalwarts, Hollywood celebrities and local political leaders come together to serve the meals. They come back year after year to make new friends and to add immeasurably to the festivities. Everyone gives their all to create a feeling of family.

The Christian Health Center and the Los Angeles County Department of Health are a big part of this year’s event. They give medical advice, COVID tests and flu shots.

Key business partners and various benevolent organizations contribute much-needed elements to the event. Kimberly Vodang, Ms. America International 2011 and her group “Warm Heart” hand out 2,000 blankets. King’s Hawaiian donates their very popular dinner rolls. AirQueen USA has donated 3,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks for the event. The organization has been supporting the Mission with 700 masks each week for staff and students. Off Their Plate and the Farmlink Project provided much of the produce cooked and served during the event.

The Mission was started as a soup kitchen for depression era men in 1936 – 84 years ago. The men who frequented the Mission back then would be genuinely surprised by the quality of the gourmet meals being served this Thanksgiving. The Mission still serves three separate meals every day and provides emergency shelter. However, the primary work of the Mission in 2020 is helping individuals restore their lives so they can get back to the business of life.

Over the years, thousands have graduated from the Mission program and have gone on to live productive lives off the streets. Each and every year, Mission program alumni come back to volunteer. Many of the people we have helped over the years show up to serve and help others.

About the Los Angeles Mission

For more than 84 years, the Los Angeles Mission has served the people of Skid Row, providing emergency services such as shelter, food, clothing, as well as professional medical and dental services. In addition, the Los Angeles Mission also offers long-term residential rehabilitation programs including education, professional mental health counseling, job training/placement, and transitional housing.

Visit www.losangelesmission.org to help make a difference in the lives of others.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.92 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,200 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 31 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories. Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com Twitter: @WellsFargo.

The FarmLink Project is a student-led grassroots organization that aims to alleviate food insecurity and reduce food waste by connecting farms with a surplus of fresh, nutritious produce to communities in need. Since its inception in April, FarmLink has rescued over 15 million pounds of food and continues to partner with farms across the country to repurpose surplus produce. https://www.farmlinkproject.org/

Off Their Plate is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that combats hunger by leveraging the existing food economy: partnering with professional kitchens, restaurants and suppliers to provide nutritious, comforting, sustainable meals to frontline workers in crisis and communities facing food insecurity. Since launching, OTP has served over 700K meals to frontline workers and individuals in need. https://offtheirplate.org/