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Order of Malta brings holiday cheer to those in need

Christa Chavez | Angelus News

In the predawn hours of Thanksgiving morning, as record-breaking rain pounds downtown Los Angeles, a soft light is shining from a small building on Hope Street. Inside the St. Francis Center, volunteers are bustling with activity as they set tables, carve turkeys, and slice pumpkin pie. After all, they are about to serve 240 guests a proper Thanksgiving feast.

Outside, in front of the building’s entrance, nursing students from Mount St. Mary’s University are huddled under pop-up tents as they prepare dozens of flu vaccines donated by Huntington Hospital. Despite the rain, the students are smiling, chatting, and eager to care for today’s guests.

Their “guests” are, primarily, those who live on the streets of Los Angeles, many of whom had endured the night in frigid, storm-soaked tents. Hot coffee is flowing, and Christmas music is playing, as arrivals are seated around dining tables.

“We like to give our guests the dignity and respect of having a meal served to them,” said Marianne Kulikov, executive director of the center. “For many, this is the only time today someone will look them in the eye.” Read more on Angelus News.