By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – An annual tradition of giving to families in need celebrated its 35th year Sunday in Denver.

This annual act of kindness started in 1982 when Father Woody opened the doors of Holy Ghost Church and welcomed in the homeless to get out of the bitter cold that year.

Volunteers made sure everyone got a holiday meal and presents.

father woody xmas 2 Father Woody Party Helps Homeless Families For 35th Year

(credit: CBS4)

This is the first year Cristal Martinez has brought her family to the Father Woody Party.

“Sometimes it’s hard raising five kids and just getting these extra presents means a lot,” said Martinez.

father woody xmas Father Woody Party Helps Homeless Families For 35th Year

(credit: CBS4)

Father John Lager has been participating in this event for over a decade, he loves watching the children receive their gifts.

“The greatest gift in all of this is to watch the faces of the children,” he said. “When the children get their special gifts, it warms my heart, but it also brings me to tears.”

Tears he says because for many of these kids they have nothing.

“I wouldn’t be able to thank enough for everything that they do for hundreds of families, it really means a lot,” said Martinez.

The annual event is made possible by donations from Regis University, the Daniels Fund, Holy Ghost Church and the Archdiocese of Denver.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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