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St. Augustine Church in Tremont Readies to Serve Christmas Meals

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 at 10:36 AM

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St. Augustine Catholic Church in Tremont (Nick Castele / ideastream)

Foodbanks and churches in Northeast Ohio are getting ready to serve meals this Christmas. ideastream's Nick Castele visited one site yesterday -- St. Augustine church, which serves meals every day.

Sister Corita Ambro directs programs at St. Augustine Church in Cleveland’s west-side Tremont neighborhood. Christmas day she’s expecting 700 people for breakfast and 500 for lunch.

That’s a jump above a normal day, when she might see as many as 300 for each meal. She says even that number has been growing - something she chalks up to cuts in food stamp payments.

Ambro says the people who come in for food each day face a lot of challenges in life. Some struggle with alcoholism, others with mental illness, some are veterans and some are just down on their luck.

“But they’re wonderful people and I—I guess I’ve fallen in love with all of them,” Ambro said. “And that’s a hard thing to say, but it’s very true. They’re just people that give me life more than I give them food.”

In the kitchen the day before Christmas, there’s more than half a dozen people working—mostly men. William Hardy says he’s cut thousands of slices of ham in the past several days. He says he volunteers because when he was in a tough spot, he came here. 

“When I was homeless, sister helped me out, and then once I got my place, I said I could come back and give back,” Hardy said. “Because without her it would be a lot of people messed up. Wouldn’t have nowhere to go to eat.”

Fred Howard is sitting at a table nearby watching other volunteers bustle around the kitchen. He says he’s been coming since the 1980s to help out - and enjoy a meal.

“We’re like a team—a family here, you know what I’m saying?” Howard said. “We keep adding, adding to our family. Look, we got a bigger squad here. And we all pitch in and do what we need to do.”

Today, Sister Ambro says, St. Augustine is serving meals at 10 locations in Northeast Ohio in addition to at the church, and delivering about meals to about 5,000 people. 

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Community/Human Interest, Health

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