Prince Harry and Meghan Markle only recently moved to Los Angeles, but they’re already finding ways to give back in the Duchess of Sussex’s hometown.
The royals have been delivering meals for Project Angel Food, a nonprofit charity based in Los Angeles that prepares and brings food to people with AIDS and other critical illnesses. The organization was founded by Marianne Williamson, the former Democratic presidential candidate who left the group in 1992.
Project Angel Food’s executive director, Richard Ayoub, told HuffPost on Thursday that Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland, suggested Harry and Meghan volunteer with the group when they wanted to be of service over the Easter weekend, as she’d heard about its increased need for help. The couple contacted Project Angel Food and then toured its facilities.
“They were just genuinely compassionate, interested individuals who came to visit the kitchens,” Ayoub said, adding that they were “extremely engaged with every single person they met.”
Ayoub said the couple asked lots of questions about the making of medically tailored meals and how many people the charity served.
WeHoVille was the first to report on the news, after Dan Tyrell, a client of the nonprofit, said he recognized the couple as they were accompanied by a security contingent.
“I thought that tall, red-headed guy looked pretty familiar, and that girl was very pretty. Then I saw the large black SUVs with the security guards behind them,” Tyrell told the outlet.
“They were both nice and very down-to-earth people,” he said. “They had masks on, and they were dressed down with jeans, but very nice jeans.”
Project Angel Food typically serves 1,600 people a day, but Ayoub told HuffPost it is adding 400 people to their rounds as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
“Our clients are sick, hungry and most of them are alone and they’re most vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus,” he said. “They’re the people who you want to stay at home, you don’t want them to even try to venture out to crowded grocery stores. And that’s why we deliver the meals to them that are designed for their illness.”
Ayoub, who has been with the organization for five years, said it’s been inundated with calls from people needing food and support during this time.
″[Harry and Meghan’s] whole goal in volunteering was just to pay tribute to our chef, staff and volunteers and just to ease the workload of our drivers,” Ayoub said.
He said that drivers often deliver to 50 or 60 clients a day, and that Meghan and Harry “have quietly been delivering for us for a couple of days and they reached 20 different households.”
“They just took some of that load off of (drivers) and hopefully put a smile on people’s faces,” he said.
“I’m extremely honored that of all the charities not only just in Los Angeles, but in the United States they picked Project Angel Food to be their first one,” he added.
Ayoub said that in a phone conversation on Wednesday, one client recalled seeing the duke and duchess.
“One of our clients called and said, “You know what, I didn’t realize it at the moment, but now it dawns on me. Is that who I thought it was delivering the meals?’” Ayoub said.
Meghan and Harry were dressed in very casual wear and outfitted in masks, gloves and even a Project Angel Food hat for the duchess, Ayoub added. “But you know ― the accent is undeniable, and her beauty is too,” he said.
A host of other famous faces ― including the late George Michael, the late Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Stone and Harry and Meghan’s close friend, Elton John ― who have given their time to Project Angel Food.
“This is a place where people feel safe. They feel like they can give back in their very private, beautiful way,” Ayoub said.
Ayoub said the attention from the royals’ help has led to more awareness of the charity, as its added 400 to its list of those to help and needs more donations. And he’s looking forward to having the duke and duchess back again.
“I can tell you that any time they want to come, they are welcome here,” he said.