LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Christmas meals were served to thousands of families in need across the Southland Tuesday.

Nearly 2,000 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children were being served a Christmas brunch at The Midnight Mission in downtown L.A. beginning at 8 a.m.

People line up outside the Midnight Mission in downtown Los Angeles on Christmas morning ahead of its annual Christmas brunch. Dec. 25, 2018. (CBS2)

There was also a Santa’s Village where children were be able to select toys of their choice and meet Santa Claus.

Families began lining up Monday night to secure their places in line.

“I think days of celebration like this, especially national celebration, when people are talking about being together and family, and how important it is; when you are without a home and without family, you can feel especially lost and forgotten,” Georgia Berkovich, a spokeswoman the Midnight Mission, told CBS2.

The mission is seeking donations of $5 to $10 to defray the costs of the Christmas brunch meals. Donations can be made by texting the keyword “Meals” to 71777 from any cellphone.

CBS2 caught up Tuesday with local Army veteran Sgt. Jeanne Buchanan as she was walking the streets outside her apartment building in downtown L.A. on Christmas morning to hand out items,  such as socks, blankets, food and flashlights,  she had collected for the homeless.

Buchanan, who herself is currently battling stage 3 colorectal cancer, told CBS2 that three years ago, she began this tradition of collecting items for the homeless that she believed they would need.

“I was homeless once, nine years ago, and I stayed in the Union Rescue Mission for four months, and I had a job, worked, saved my money and got an apartment here,” Buchanan said. “So I’m very in tune to the homeless community, the people that aren’t in shelters, that are out there barefoot, with nothing.”

Meanwhile, another popular dinner was the annual interfaith Christmas Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry at Hollywood United Methodist Church. They were hoping to serve 1,500 people.

More than 100 roasted turkeys with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and a host of desserts was served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to retirees, homeless people, working families with young children and other hungry and needy individuals and families, organizers said.

Diners received bags filled with personal care items, new socks, hats and blankets. Children received toys, their choice of a book and have the opportunity to have a family picture taken with Santa Claus.

The Christmas Dinner was originally a project of the Hollywood Interfaith Coalition, whose churches had been serving Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of the coalition’s Jewish participants thought it would be a nice idea for the Jewish participants to take over the serving of Christmas Dinner so the members of the coalition celebrating and observing Christmas could stay home with their families.

Temple Israel of Hollywood became the lead organizer and host of the event in the 1980s.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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