Thanksgiving at the LA Mission

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Kirk Douglas and wife Anne Buydens

Kirk Douglas and wife Anne (AP photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Thousands of Skid Row residents and homeless people from downtown and beyond were served Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings today during the Los Angeles Mission’s annual holiday feast.

Celebrities including Hilary Duff , Blair Underwood and Tatyana Ali were among the notables expected to help serve the meals during the daylong event, for which hungry diners lined up for hours.

Dozens of volunteers began preparing meals at about 4:30 a.m., under the supervision of “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio and Mission Chef Chris Cormier.

“I think it’s important because you … get to give all these people a meal that they otherwise haven’t had,” Steve Engleman, a volunteer who works as a server at Voltaggio’s “ink” restaurant, told CBS2. “They’ve probably been here a few years in the past and we’re just trying to make this a special day for them.”

The meal was hosted for the eighth year by actor Kirk Douglas and his wife, Anne — the namesake of the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the mission.

The meal included highlights such as maple corn stuffing, double-stuffed potatoes, parmesan-encrusted squash and homemade apple chutney.

“It’s awesome because on a regular basis we cook for people that expect to eat or are entitled to eat or just want to eat, and in this case we’re cooking for people that need to eat,” Voltaggio told ABC7.

Homeless people being served at the event were also offered foot care and exams by Los Angeles Christian Health Centers. About 4,000 people were expected to receive food at the mission.

“I’m thankful, I’m very thankful,” Harriet Franklin told Channel 7 as she waited in line for a meal. “There’s not a lot of times you come down somewhere and they give you free clothes, free food and free place to stay, you know? So I’m thankful.”

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