Columbia, SC (WLTX) - One church in the Midlands is making sure no one is left out of the Christmas cheer.
St. Peter's Catholic church, with help from St. Vincent DePaul, is giving out a Christmas meal for anyone who would like to come. Volunteers with the church spent the week cooking up holiday favorites, and began decorating for the special day on Thursday.
Robert Keeder with the St. Peters says they expect a little over 1,000 people to attend, and each one will get a gift bag full of clothing and winter items. There will also be toys for kids.
Keeder says they want to make sure no one has to be alone on Christmas.
"It was back in '85 and I was getting in my car in West Columbia, and I was a young kid now," Keeder said, "and I was noticing these people wandering around and it looked to me at the time to destination nowhere."
Keeder says he went to Mass later that day and prayed to God asking what he could do to make sure that never happened again.
"The following year, the destination is no longer nowhere," Keeder said, "the destination for now 32 years is St. Peters."
For Keeder, it's come with a sacrifice. He says he has not been home for the holidays to see his family since starting the event over three decades ago.
"If you don't go home to see your family in 32 years, you've got to have a connection with something that's good," Keeder said.
Keeder says he knows he's needed at the church, packing gift bags, preparing food and throwing a Christmas celebration for those who need it.
"There's still good people in the world," Keeder said. " As long as we're here, this will continue."
The meal will begin at 11 a.m. on Christmas day.