DENVER - More than 1,500 people and families received an annual gift Friday in memory of Monsignor Charles Woodrich, more commonly known as Father Woody.
Each individual gets $20 and each child receives a McDonald's gift certificate as part of the Father Woody Gift Day. Funding for the annual program comes from an anonymous donor.
"If they didn't offer this here, I wouldn't know how to buy my daughter something, so I'm thankful," said Olivia Rodriguez, who says she has been homeless for many years.
Rodriguez says her daughter is in social service custody and the cash gift is the only means she has to buy a Christmas gift.
Carmelita Alvarado brought her young son Felix to the distribution, which took place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Colfax Avenue and Logan Street, near the state capitol in downtown Denver.
"I'm going to use this money for diapers and milk," Alvarado said, holding Felix in her arms. "And they gave my son a gift card for McDonald's so I'm going to get a hamburger and fries."
Father Woody was a co-founder of the Samaritan House homeless shelter at Park Avenue West and Lawrence Street and pastor of a number of churches including Holy Ghost church at 19th Street and California Street. He died in 1991, but the gift day continues two decades later.
Msgr. Thomas Fryar, pastor of the cathedral, says the Father Woody Gift Day is one of the warmest days of the year for him. "It's our effort to share with the wider community, especially those less fortunate, the awareness that that first Christmas had a very unfortunate family that relied upon the kindness and the generosity of others and we continue that tradition as we do this."
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