LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of people were served Easter brunch Sunday at the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles.

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The event drew 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women, and children to Skid Row.

But for many, the day was about much more than a free meal. It was about family.

“There’s a great atmosphere. We all feel like family. It’s just great. I’m loving every minute here,” Rocky Loaiza, a shelter resident, told CBS2’s Joy Benedict.

After spending more than 20 years sleeping on the street, Loaiza caught a break a year ago. He found a place to stay nearby.

“I gave up at first but then I wanted something different. And it came about that, yeah, I had to think different to stay out,” he said.

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Others like, Star Simpson, expressed gratitude for the meal and the kindness of strangers.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing. I consider it as a blessing,” she said. “I never thought I would be down here on Skid Row in the Union Rescue Mission but instead of being depressed, I take it one day at a time.”

Simpson has only lived on Skid Row for ten days. She and her two-year-old son moved to a shelter after being evicted from her apartment.

The day also drew tons of volunteers to serve food, including CBS2 news anchor Kent Shocknek, and actor Dick Van Dyke.

Ronald Holmes with the Midnight Mission told KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz that donations are always needed to support events like Sunday’s.

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“We do Easter on Easter. Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving. Christmas on Christmas. So we basically can get everybody that’s here fed and just let them have a good time,” he said.