M. Terry / SFVS

The Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission in Van Nuys provided 1,100 Thanksgiving meals, as well as a street fair full of clothing items and personal services for the homeless and others in need on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

“This is the eighth annual event…it continues to expand, especially with the increase of homelessness the past couple of years,” said Ken Craft, Rescue Mission CEO. “There seems to be more and more people in need.”

Among the estimated 400 volunteers were former Los Angeles Laker and Clipper Norm Nixon, who said it was his first time at the Valley event.

“Ken came and spoke to the (National Basketball) Retired Players Association, and when he talked about what they were doing it was a no-brainer that this was something [the association] wanted to be involved in,” said Nixon, who helped serve meals, posed for pictures and signed autographs.

“Anytime you have an organization like their’s that goes above and beyond the call of duty, it’s important that others also give back to the community. It makes you thankful for the things you have. And it’s a blessing for these people to come here and feel good, have a nice hot meal, bring their families — the fellowship that goes on here is just a beautiful thing.”

Beginning at 1 p.m., people were served a holiday dinner consisting gourmet turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls and pumpkin pie. At the street fair, sleeping bags, blankets, socks, toothbrushes and other supplies were distributed. Free grooming services and medical exams were also available.

Annually we serve over 207,000 meals all year long, and provide over 61,000 nights of shelter,” Craft said. “We’re grateful to the community for the support, because it takes all of us.”