Good Friday banquet serves L.A.'s homeless

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(CNS) – Hundreds of people waited in a line that wrapped around the block in Skid Row Friday for the Los Angeles Mission’s annual Good Friday banquet, where they were served meals, a foot wash and new sneakers.

Politicians and more than 400 volunteers turned out to help at the event, where guests were treated to a meal of honey glazed ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans, orange-ginger-cranberry relish and pumpkin pie.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa handed out meals and washed feet.

“You’re better than my nail shop,” Tina Newman, 57, of Inglewood told the mayor.

City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district will include Skid Row after an ordinance codifying new city council district boundaries is approved, also handed out meals.

Huizar said the area has looked worse in recent months. “While we see some indicators the economy is slightly better, I don’t see it around here,” Huizar said. “I see more and more families coming out for free meals, looking for shelter. It’s a tougher time for these folks.”

He said crime also has surged around Skid Row, in part because of a court ruling barring the city from removing the belongings of homeless people camped on sidewalks.

“We have to comply with the court rulings, but it’s incumbent on myself, the city attorney and the mayor’s office to get together to come up with some regulations that make sense for the city of L.A., something that works for the local stakeholders,” Huizar said, adding that he intends to put additional staff on the issue.

For the 14th consecutive year, Orange County shoe company Etnies brought 2,000 pairs of its shoes to give out.

“These people are on their feet a lot, and we’re able to provide them with the comfort of our shoes,” Etnies Public Relations Manager Anika Haag said. “A lot of times, we’ll see people wearing the shoes we gave them last year. So we can see the value in that. They’ve been wearing these all year long and they look forward to getting a brand new pair that will last them till the next year.”


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