Local

Poverello House spreads holiday cheer

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hundreds of Valley families turned out for a Christmas celebration in Downtown Fresno on Sunday.

The Poverello House handed out gifts and food to more than a thousand people for Christmas - a turnout organizers say is one of their largest ever.

As live holiday music played, families lined up in the cold to bring a bit of Christmas joy to their children.

"It means a lot, it helps out a lot," Sophia Vasquez of Fresno said.

The gift receiving line wrapped around the Poverello House for several hours.

"It was extremely long, but it was worth it," Raquel Roland of Fresno said.

Roland brought her 2-year-old son David to the giveaway.

"It's wonderful, because my kids get to play with toys they don't have," Roland said.

More than 100 volunteers helped hand out wrapped toys and books for the kids in need.

"It's a very good feeling, because we don't have money right now to buy presents, so it's really helpful," Brenda Blanco of Fresno said,

Kathryn Weakland with the Poverello House says this is likely the biggest crowd she's ever seen at this annual event.

"It speaks volumes to economic situation our community is in, and you know this is one of the most depressed communities in California," Weakland said.

Unemployment around the Valley is in the double digits, so, Weakland says, it's no surprise many families showed up to fill up their bags with presents - gifts the smiling children might not have had this year.

Along with the more than 3 thousand toys that were handed out the families were also served a hot breakfast and, later in the day, a roast beef lunch with all the trimmings.

"You just realize how desperate these families are and the need that out there," Weakland said.

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fresno, fresno county, fresno downtown, poverello house, local, rick montanez
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