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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Good Friday Celebrated at Los Angeles Mission

Volunteers packed more than 1,000 Easter baskets while Etnies gave away more than 2,000 shoes to the poor and homeless.

About four thousand homeless and poor families celebrated Good Friday at the Los Angeles Mission on Skid Row with a special Easter brunch, live music, Easter baskets and thousands of shoes donated by Etnies.

Volunteers began preparing the Easter feast at 4 a.m. Friday morning, slicing ham, baking macaroni and cheese and cutting pumpkin pie for about 3,500 meals.

Jiovonni Tripplett, a volunteer and graduate of the Mission’s Fresh Start Rehabilitation Program, works at the mission most mornings preparing and serving meals.

“I like to give back to the homeless, these people are our guests,” said Tripplett. “I like to come here and feed them because it shows that we still care about them because a lot them think nobody cares. It’s all about showing love.”

Tripplett’s mother also graduated from one of the Mission’s programs, and he says the Easter event is an important community event.

Volunteers also hand-packed more than 1,000 Easter baskets for children, and adults received hygiene kits.

An Easter Bunny also swerved through the crowds to give hugs to children, as well as help hand out the baskets.

Most of those waiting in line were low-income families with children eager to receive the hand wrapped Easter surprises, which would be the only Easter basket many of these children receive this holiday.

When asked what they were most excited for, children of all ages answered with a resounding, “Easter eggs!” “Candies” and “chocolate” were also shouted with equal enthusiasm.

Foot washing, which has both spiritual significance and health benefits, was provided by the Los Angeles Christian Health Centers.

“The foot washing is my favorite part of the day,” said Herb Smith, President of the Los Angeles Mission. “It tells the people on the street that we are here to serve them and that most importantly, we are here to care about them.”

Etnies shoes has participated in the Easer event for the past 16 years and has donated 38,000 pairs of shoes, 2,000 of which were given out this Friday.

Etnies founder, Pierre Andre Senizergues, was homeless for long stretches of time and realized the importance of a good pair of shoes, which is why he continues to give back every year, said Etnies PR Manager Anika Haag.

“The homeless are on their feet all day. They even sleep in their shoes, so they need a good pair of shoes that will last and will take care of them while they are out there on the streets,” Haag said.

The Easter feast began at 11:00 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. Over two tons of ham and other dishes were handed out by hundreds of volunteers.

“We want to make sure they have a really great meal, and a really good time,” said Assistant Senior Food Director David Thomas.

Thomas was formerly homeless and credited the Los Angeles Mission for getting him back on his feet. The Food Director has been volunteering at the Mission for the past 13 years, and said city’s the homeless and low-income families count on this event every year.

“We just want them to know we are here for them,” said Thomas. “And that we’re always here, even after today.”

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