BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The holidays will be a little warmer thanks to one Baltimore church and its parishioners. They’re reaching out to the homeless and the needy this holiday season.

Ron Matz has the story from Little Italy.

St. Leo’s is the beacon of hope in Little Italy, and Father Sal Furnari is leading the church’s effort to help the needy at Christmas.

“On Dec. 19 we have a Christmas dinner for the homeless. It will take place in the church hall between noon and 3 p.m. We’ll have ham, mashed potatoes, corn and various desserts. Anyone who can come down and help us, it will be a blessing for us and the community,” said Furnari.

Gifts of hats, gloves and scarves will be distributed to the homeless.

“Around Christmas time we prepare what we call a mitten tree. It’s a tradition of St. Leo the Great for the past 12 years. Parishioners generally offer contributions of knitted hats, scarves and gloves which we place on the tree during the Christmas season. We distribute them to local homeless shelters,” said Furnari.

Parishioners like Francis Blatterman help organize the Christmas gifts.

“We have a couple of projects. One is our mitten tree. People bring gloves and hats, and hang them on the tree. Father Sal will deliver them to the various shelters in the area,” Blatterman said. “We also collect gifts. People wrap their gifts and indicate whether it’s for a boy or girl, young or an adult, and they’ll be collected and set in front of our nativity scene. We’ll distribute them in the same fashion.”

At nearby Colombo Bank, they’re collecting blankets for the needy.

“This is the second year we’re doing a blanket drive. Everybody has blankets at home that maybe they don’t really need and can afford to give up. It worked well last year and we’ve already collected more blankets this year than we did last year,” said Maryanne Domowski, Colombo Bank.

Again, on Dec. 19, St. Leo’s will also host a Christmas dinner for the homeless. The church is expected to serve meals to more than 300 people.

“It’s taking care of those who don’t have anything and those that are in need. We’ve been doing it here for a long time at St. Leo’s. We just finished our Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and needy,” Blatterman said.

It’s a time to help those in need.

“It’s our joy and our duty to help the people in need and that’s why we do it,” said Furnari. “We just have such a great and tremendous gift of our parishioners who always are willing and able to give to those in need. We couldn’t do it without them.” 

If you’d like to make a donation to help St. Leo’s in their holiday effort you can call the church at 410-675-7275.


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