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Southland Residents Observe Christmas In Prayer, Service To Those In Need

LOS ANGELES ( — Christmas in the Los Angeles area Wednesday included church services celebrating the birth of Jesus and efforts to help the needy.

Archbishop Jose Gomez led a 12:30 p.m. Spanish-language Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. An English-language Christmas Day Mass took place at the cathedral at both 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Gomez was joined by Sheriff Lee Baca in celebrating Christmas Mass with the general population inmates at Men's Central Jail.

"Christmas tells us that God loves all of us, just as a father loves his little baby. with a precious love, with a tender mercy," Gomez said.

At the San Gabriel Mission, the fourth oldest of California's 21 missions, English-language Masses took place at 8 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. in the chapel and 9:30 a.m. in the old mission. Spanish-language Masses was slated for 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the chapel. A Vietnamese-language Mass was planned for 3 p.m. in the chapel.

Meanwhile, many people chose to spend their Christmas helping others.

Union Station Homeless Services fed some 2,000 homeless and low-income adults and children and people alone in Pasadena's Central Park.

The Laugh Factory in Hollywood launched its 34th annual free Christmas Day Feast for anyone away from home, those who might be lonely, homeless or in need of a warm meal, a hug or a laugh. Top comics joined other celebrities in helping serve each guest a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Comics were expected to perform following meals served at 1 p.m, 3, p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Temple Israel of Hollywood's 28th annual Christmas Dinner for the Hungry and Homeless provided Christmas dinners for needy men, women and children at Hollywood United Methodist Church.

In Norco, Miracle on 6th Street took place at 11 a.m. to host its ninth annual Christmas Dinner Service at Maverick Steakhouse & Saloon, at 3841 Hamner Avenue. The food was donated by stores and restaurants and served by volunteers.

The Pay it Forward volunteer band also held its 25th and final 2013 performance at a Highland Park nursing home, playing Christmas songs from the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

"We are told by the staffs that patients talk about these shows throughout the year, that this is the high point of their year," the band's Gary Gamponia said, adding that the nonprofit group has been able to recruit some of the best musicians in the region.

The group, which has about 60 members grouped in seven-to-10-member ensembles, gets many requests for Christmas Day concerts but picked the Highland Park Skilled Nursing and Wellness Center because it relies solely on government funding and the residents there are among the neediest, Gamponia said.

"We also do these shows because so many of these people have nobody left," Gamponia said.

In his Christmas radio address broadcast Wednesday, at which he was joined by his wife Michelle, President Barack Obama told Americans "this is a season for millions of Americans to be together with family, to continue long-held holiday traditions and to show our gratitude for those we love."

Obama also said "we want all of our troops to know that you're in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season."

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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