Juan Manuel was just settling in with two of his four kids after working a graveyard shift at a local freezer warehouse, when there was a sudden knock at their apartment door.

At the door were Msgr. Terrance Fleming and Auxiliary Bishop Matthew Elshoff, with volunteers hauling dozens of donated gifts following close behind.

Manuel said he works long hours to make ends meet, but after paying for food, rent, and bills, he doesn’t have much left for holiday purchases. Knowing that strangers united to provide his kids with likely the only presents they’ll receive this year fills him with gratitude and helps restore his faith in humanity, he said.

“I’m very surprised that there is still a community out there that wants to help,” he said, “because nowadays, you don’t see that anymore. That’s what we all need sometimes, just that little helping hand.”

The Manuels were one of the 456 families that received food, clothes, toys, gift cards, household goods, and Christmas gifts this year through Adopt-a-Family, an outreach program of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels that serves more than 1,000 children annually and has assisted more than 13,000 families since its inception.

What started as a simple toy giveaway organized by Fleming at the Cathedral of St. Vibiana 33 years ago has blossomed into an annual tradition that gives much-needed support to low-income families living in and around the cathedral boundaries, supported by individuals, schools, parishes, businesses, and other groups across the community.

It’s an opportunity for the area’s mother church to minister to the less fortunate and share the love of Christ with others, said Fleming, executive director of the archdiocese’s Pontifical Mission Societies.

“What better time than Christmas?” he said. “Jesus is born, there’s new life.”

Just over 1,000 volunteers of all ages — donning maroon T-shirts emblazoned with “Adopt-A-Family” on the front and white angel wings on the back — gathered at the cathedral in the early morning hours of Dec. 16 for a prayer service before fanning out across downtown Los Angeles and Skid Row to deliver the goods….

From Angelus News