Friday, December 26, 2008

Food On Foot - A Christmas Story

Yesterday, my husband, Warren, and I volunteered our time with "Food On Foot", a non-profit dedicated to providing the poor and homeless of Los Angeles with nutritious meals, clothing, and assistance in the transition to employment and life off the streets.

Along with about 50 other volunteers, we spent 3 hours passing out hot meals and new sleeping bags to hundreds of homeless and hungry clients.

Both volunteers and clients did their best dealing with the driving rain. The entire operation is staged in an open parking lot behind the Hollywood Gay and Lesbian Center, so there wasn't any way to get out of the weather. Despite waiting and working in these conditions, everyone managed to keep their cool.

Volunteers were paired with clients to help them through the line, which meant we got to spend a lot of time with individuals. So instead of a quick "hello" or "Merry Christmas" we actually got to talk to folks and learn a little bit about their lives.

We met a family of eight - mom and dad, and six little girls - the oldest was 10, the youngest a newborn. They lived in an SRO downtown and had spent an hour on the bus to get there. The girls were adorable, but heartbreaking. The oldest was clearly in need of major dental work the parents were never going to be able to afford.

We also met a group of teenagers, cousins, who made the 4-hour, 6-bus roundtrip journey from South Central for what amounted to just an El Pollo Loco meal, a free sleeping bag, some fruit and a bottle of water. And they were happy to be there.

Although there were a lot of singe men in the group, what we saw mostly were families with young children. And it was pretty clear this was the only meal they'd get that day.

I would recommend "Food On Foot" for anyone interested in a volunteer opportunity in Hollywood. They hand out food and clothes every Sunday, rain or shine, at this same location. To learn more, visit them online at:

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