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      Church feeds residents in need on Christmas Day

      Columbia, SC (WACH)--Not everyone relaxed at home Christmas Day.

      Maria Hernandez and her family members woke up early and waited almost three hours in line outside of St. Peters Catholic Church for a special dinner.

      "I know we are not the most needy, but we have something to fill us up," Hernandez said. "It is a nice meal. It means a lot to us."

      The church held its 27th annual Christmas Dinner for Hernandez and hundreds of other midlands residents that are facing hard times. The line extended around the church down the block on Taylor street. In addition, other items were given out to adults, and toys were given to children.

      Volunteer Coordinator Robert Keeder said the tradition began by giving away clothing to keep people warm. But it has grown a lot over the years.

      "You have working families that are struggling," Keeder said. "Families that have two or three kids and are not working or part time working. It is tough. St. Peters does have Santa, does have a meal, and is available to anybody and everybody; homeless, helpless, elderly, or handicapped."

      Keeder said almost 100 volunteers helped carry out the event; many who participate every year. It is that kind of spirit he hopes will encourage others to come out and help give back to the community.

      "It is something that I think is instinctively common for anybody who knows that there is a need somewhere," Keeder said. "They want to make a difference. So on Christmas Day, it is done here at St. Peters. We are continuing the tradition."

      Hernandez said it is great to see the community come together for one another.

      "It is a nice way to end the year. A nice meal with a church that really does care about the needy people."

      A feeling she hopes will spread this holiday season.