I’m Michael Rouse, Toyota’s vice president of philanthropy, community affairs and diversity and inclusion. At 4 o’clock in the morning on December 24th my 22-year old daughter Rebecca and I donned chef’s coats and set about working in the kitchen of the Los Angeles Mission to help chef Ben Ford prepare a gourmet meal for more than 4,000 homeless. Rebecca and I were just two of the almost 200 Toyota associates and their family members who worked shifts at the Mission, located in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles to help prepare and serve the Christmas Eve dinner.
For the third year in a row, Toyota was the primary sponsor of the annual event, which provides meals and thousands of wrapped toys to kids at a huge Christmas Eve program.
I continue to be touched by the Mission’s dedication and service to families in need and each year I’m so proud of the number of our associates, friends and family members who volunteer their time to work this event. It’s a humbling experience and everyone walks away with a greater understanding of our broader community and the support that is needed – not just during the holiday, but all year round.
Many of our associates who couldn’t work the event helped out by contributing items and donating 100 hygiene kits to the residents of the Mission.
We got an early morning start with the staff and other volunteers at the Mission. There were last minute gift donations to wrap, and of course the big dinner to prepare. The volunteers in the kitchen also served breakfast to overnight guests at the Mission and at about 7:00 AM handed out hot breakfast sandwiches and cider to the families waiting in line for the event that would begin later in the morning.
Herb Smith, the president of the Los Angeles Mission explained that they wouldn’t exist without the loving financial support of the community. The volunteers, donors, businesses who support the mission make their work possible.
But even with the huge turnout around the holidays, the Los Angeles Mission has seen a significant downturn in donations and is concerned about financial shortfalls. Herb told us that they are seeing an increase in the number of men, women and families coming for help.
Housed in temporary facilities, shelters and low-income housing in the Skid Row area, this was the only Christmas celebration for many of the guests. The Los Angeles Mission has been providing a Christmas meal and toy distribution at this location since the new Mission building was dedicated 20 years ago. The Mission has been operating continuously since 1936, when it was created as a soup kitchen to serve those displaced during the Great Depression.
Help change a life. Learn more about how you can get involved https://losangelesmission.org/give/donate-now/