Homeless men, women, and children gathered Sunday on Skid Row to celebrate Easter with a hot meal, live music, and activities. The Midnight Mission's annual event attracted not only a special visit from the Easter Bunny, but also legendary actor and comedian Dick Van Dyke.
The family-focused event focused largely on the desires of underprivileged children, with volunteers providing Easter baskets, face-painting services, and arts and crafts help.
The number of tents, makeshift encampments, and vehicles occupied by homeless individuals has risen by 85 percent in Los Angeles the past two years, said the Midnight Mission. Such jarring statistics are why The Midnight Mission, a non-profit organization, chooses to dedicate as many efforts to the well-being of the homeless population, with 91 percent of all profits made directed towards program-related services.
"This place is getting to be more and more of a blessing to the world," Van Dyke said. "Every year there's a big graduating class, and I see what they do here. Unlike so many other places where they just get a meal and a bed."
Some of the services offered to homeless people by The Midnight Mission include computer skills courses, financial advisement, and vocational planning.
"Self-sufficiency is the goal that we set for every man and woman in our program," the organization stated.
The Midnight Mission is located on 601 South San Pedro Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Those interested in helping should visit midnightmission.org.