Many families line up for Christmas Eve meal at LA Mission

Thousands of homeless people will be served Christmas Eve meals and children will receive toys from Santa today courtesy of the Los Angeles Mission.

Celebrities are expected to be on hand to help serve food during the mission's annual feast, which is being planned and prepared by noted local chef Ben Ford.

Ford, the son of actor Harrison Ford, will be on hand before dawn to begin preparing the meal, while volunteers wrap gifts that will be distributed to children in a Santa's Workshop that will be set up in the mission at 303 E.
Fifth St.

Among the celebrities expected to help serve meals are Emmy Rossum, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin, Tim Matheson, Niecy Nash, Garcelle Beauvais, Tommy Davidson, Kate Linder, Jacob Hopkins, Johnny Ortiz and Pat O'Brien.

The food preparation will begin at 4:30 a.m., with breakfast served to the mission's overnight guests at 5 a.m. The holiday meal service will begin at 11 a.m., with Santa distributing toys a short time later.

From Zohreen Adamjee (Wednesday night):

Nearly 24 hours before Christmas Eve dinner at the L.A. Mission on Thursday, dozens of families were already lined up outside.

Parents were hoping their kids Christmas wishes would come true the next day, when the L.A. Mission would be handing out presents and warm meals.

"I can't afford everything my kids want. So it would be a Christmas but it wouldn't be the Christmas my kids would like," said parent Nicole Neely, waiting in line with her kids.

Orchestrating the Christmas experience is L.A. Missions Sous Chef Erik Grant, one of the men behind the meals that starts Thursday at 11 a.m..

On Thursday night, Grant was preparing trays of yams, green beans....enough to feed 5,000 Thursday.

"What I see in most people is a need for understanding," said Grant.

Just a few years ago, Grant was one of the people being served.

"I found myself in trouble a few years back so I ended up homeless. Lost 2 pieces of property, Lost a career, lost everything," said Grant.

With what he's gained back, he hopes to give forward to people like Ruby Williams and her 13 kids.

"It would be nothing without them. They've been helping me for the last 10 -12 years," said Williams.

The L.A. Mission will be serving Christmas Eve dinner until 3 p.m. Thursday.

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