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Thousands of community members gathered in the days leading up to Thanksgiving to assemble food packages and serve dinner to people in need. Local organizations helping for the holiday include Big Sunday, C.I.T.Y. x1 and the L.O.V.E. Foundation.
Big Sunday, a non-profit organization on Melrose Avenue, provided more than 2,000 bags of food yesterday to service providers for people in need on Thanksgiving.
Approximately 125 LGBT youth and their friends gathered in Hollywood last Sunday for a Thanksgiving feast held by C.I.T.Y. x1, an organization that has been hosting holiday dinners for homeless youth every November for the past 13 years.
The organization, whose name stands for Community Intervention Through Youth, is a grassroots effort dedicated to hosting events for LGBT youth and their friends. It started as a small program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles encouraging homeless youth to come together. Funding for the program ran out in 2005, and organizers found themselves on their own, said Carlos Sosa, executive director for C.I.T.Y. x1.
The group reached out to supporters and found that many were willing to help. The city of West Hollywood provided funding and a location at Plummer Park to hold the Thanksgiving dinners. Sosa said the event grew, and this year it was held in a banquet hall at the Hollywood Hotel to accommodate the crowd.
“It started out as a fun project, but when we went to Plummer Park, it just started snowballing from there,” Sosa said. “It’s been getting bigger and bigger. It’s always been the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The most important component is we get a lot of homeless kids attending. For a lot of them, they wouldn’t have a place to go.”
Sosa said the dinner is sponsored by West Hollywood, as well as the Office of Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, the L.A. LGBT Center, AltaMed, Christ Church of Valley and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Free HIV testing was held. O’Farrell attended the dinner and said it is important for Hollywood youth.
“The C.I.T.Y. x1 event is really special. I’ve been there every year since I’ve been in office,” O’Farrell said. “We are talking [about] homeless youth who have been kicked out of their homes. It’s a very special group for 13 to 24 year olds. I like going to the event and showing support. These kids need inspiration.”
O’Farrell said members of the community can also enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner today at the First Annual Thanksgiving LOVE Dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hollywood Recreation Center, 1122 Cole Ave. O’Farrell is partnering with community groups such as the L.O.V.E. (Living Our Vision Everyday) Foundation to host the dinner, which is geared toward homeless youth and low-income families but is open to everyone. For information, visit www.cd13.com.
Big Sunday also offers more than 250 projects in which people can help during the upcoming holiday season.
“Going into the holiday season, there are two big needs,” said David Levinson, executive director of Big Sunday. “Some people need stuff. A lot of people don’t have enough food and clothing, and enough toys for their children. A lot of people are lonely and also need a little TLC. Whether you have a lot of money or no money, there are ways to help.”
Big Sunday is holding its Fourth Annual Holiday Decorating Party on Sunday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Veteran Administration facility in West Los Angeles. Big Sunday is seeking volunteers to help decorate rooms for people who are hospitalized at the facility.
“We are bringing in trees and decorations, and need people who want to spread a little holiday cheer,” Levinson said.
Volunteers are also being sought for Big Sunday’s Sixth Annual Holiday Party and Sing-a-Long on Sunday, Dec. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the organization’s headquarters at 6111 Melrose Ave. Members of the community are invited to join Big Sunday for a meal and musical performance. The event will also include a toy drive. For information, visit www.bigsunday.org.
“For anyone who needs a little TLC during the holidays, we have a little TLC to give,” Levinson added.
C.I.T.Y. x1 is also hosting an event for LGBT youth and their friends called “The Tamale Jam” on Dec. 13 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hollywood Hotel, 1160 N. Vermont Ave. Food will be served, and attendees can enjoy music. For information, visit www.cityx1.com.
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