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A long line snaked outside the Catholic Charities Southeast Texas Hospitality Center Christmas Day, where a holiday meal was just one of the items on the special-day menu.

“I like to come here for the fellowship with friends; the food is good, and I get a chance to sit down and talk while eating,” Mary Roman, 66, of Port Arthur, said.

Roman attended the annual Christmas Day festivities at the Hospitality Center on Gulfway Drive along with others who wanted to enjoy a hot meal with turkey and all the trimmings.

This year’s Christmas meal marked the 28th the Center has prepared meals for the underprivileged.

“The need gets greater every year,” Christina Green, Hospitality Center director, said.

Volunteers from the community help make the event a success by giving of their time to cook and serve patrons on the special day.

Charles James, 60, of Port Arthur was also among those eating Friday.

“Its nice to come and eat with others,” he said.

James said he comes every year to the holiday event, and goes to the facility off and on throughout the year.

Seven days a week the Hospitality Center offers a free hearty meal to the elderly on fixed incomes, those in temporary need, the working poor, disabled and homeless persons.

Last year, approximately 40,000 meals were served at the Port Arthur center.

Luther Fields, 62, of Port Arthur is there many of those days lending a helping hand.

For the past five years, he said he’s done a little bit of everything, but always enjoys Christmas Day.

“It’s a special day because it’s the Lord’s Day, and everybody here is getting what they need today,” he said. “We see a lot of smiling faces today.”

As she finished her meal, Roman was smiling  — after all, she did not have to cook and was not alone on the holiday.

“Everybody in my family went to Houston today. I was not driving, oh no, not in Houston,” she said. “So, I was glad to come here. It really makes you feel like you are at home.”

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews