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Columbia man has organized Christmas lunch tradition for 34 years

St. Peter's Catholic Church is getting ready to host their 34th Christmas lunch.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Every year for the past 34 years, Robert Keeder organizes a Christmas Feast for those in need at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Columbia.

For for over three decades, he has sacrificed his Christmas morning to feed and help those in the community who really need some extra Christmas love. 

"As long as it needs to be done, as long as there's a need out there, we're going to be a part of it," Keeder tells News19. "If we're not the leader, we'll be the last in line. But we're going to be in that line, and we're going to make a difference in this city. We have for 34 years, and hopefully we'll continue to do it until God calls us home." 

But this year is different for Keeder. He hasn't been home to his family for Christmas since this event began and won't be again this year. 

"I do have a brother Jerry who is on life-support right now," Keeder shares. "I've been up to see him and prayed with him and I've been talking to him ever since, he and his wife Joyce.... he's lived a good life, he's happy where he is and we're praying it'll be soon and not have to suffer."

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A difficult decision, but Keeder decided to continue his tradition in the Midlands. "I had a choice to make and I talked it through with my sister-in-law and my brother -- 'Go on down to Columbia, get your work done for the poor. I know what you do down there on Christmas. Get out of here!'"

And when asked what his final thoughts going into tomorrow are, Keeder said, "Well, we did it. We wanted to do it and we did it. For 34 times."

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News 19 will bring you coverage of the lunch on Christmas Day. 

If you have any story ideas or information on things happening around town, contact us at StreetSquad@wltx.com or tweet us using the hashtag #StreetSquad19.

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