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Good Friday on 5th

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, April 13, 2009, at 10:43AM
Mother and Child Ed Fuentes

New faces are being seen on Skid Row, say officials. More families have been seen at these holiday dinners.

For an estimated 3,000 men, women and children, the long Easter Weekend began as a guest or volunteer at the Los Angeles Mission Easter Dinner held on Good Friday.

Unlike in previous years, not all those waiting in the line that wrapped around the Los Angeles Mission were regulars to the holiday meals sponsored by the various non-profits in Central City East.

“There are lots of new faces on Skid Row,” said Los Angeles Mission President Herbert L. Smith in a statement. “We are seeing more people, and different types of people than we have in the past, including more families and people who are suffering economic dislocation.”

While there was an increase in people seeking help, the number of people volunteering was slightly lower. "It would have been good to see a few more volunteers," said Councilwoman Jan Perry. "Still, everybody's spirit is good and people are being served with the dignity they deserve."

A number of volunteers––from celebrities to Girl Scout troops––made sure those waiting for food had their fill of a meal that included roasted chicken, yams, vegetables, and baked macaroni with cheddar, mozzarella and ricotta cheese.

On this day, after people dined inside, they followed a path outdoors for to get Easter Baskets, have their feet washed or pick up some new shoes.

While the tradition of foot washings on 5th is in reference to the Biblical story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, the ceremony has a very practical function. Included is a brief examination, massage and minor medical attention given by the staff and volunteers from the Los Angeles Christian Health Centers.

Back inside, while celebrities were busy serving dinners alongside members of LAPD, politicians and Downtown locals, actor Terry Crews was on his 4th round of placing dinners on the long tables for the next group of guests.

He recalled to his days as a child in Flint, Michigan. "I will always remember those programs that brought toys to us. It was a big party to us," he says, adding that at the time they didn't consider themselves poor. "It was later on, when you look back on it, when it made a difference."

"Hey, this pumpkin pie is good right now," said a man sitting nearby. "It's about today, too."

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