BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Dick Van Dyke regularly dishes up meals and laughs during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter at The Midnight Mission shelter on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.
The organization gave back to the actor-comedian Thursday night, honoring him with its Golden Heart Award during a dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
"I had a little tussle with the demon rum," Van Dyke said, alluding to his own problem with alcohol abuse years ago. "I thought, 'I'll go down and do a little payback.' I was amazed — young people, mothers and a lot of kids. The place got under my skin and it's been a part of my life ever since."
Van Dyke, 79, volunteers for the major holiday meals, often bringing celebrity helpers like Carrie Fisher and Ed Begley Jr. He recently served as chairman of a fundraising campaign for a new Midnight Mission building.
"They take people and put them back on their feet and send them out as proud citizens," Van Dyke said. "It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done."
Among those cheering for Van Dyke on Thursday were Fisher, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, actor Mike Conners, Angie Dickinson, Barbara Sinatra and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.
"They take people and put them back on their feet and send them out as proud citizens," Van Dyke said.
I have one thing to say to Dick Van Dyke. I wondered about something, Dick. Do you know that the Midnight Mission discriminated gays?
If I was Dick, I will return the stupid award and volunteer at a gay friendly shelter.