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Cleveland's St. Augustine Church serves hundreds in Thanksgiving Day tradition

Sister Corita Ambro is the engine behind the tradition spanning more than five decades.

CLEVELAND — There may be no other Thanksgiving tradition that speaks to the spirit of the holiday than the one at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Cleveland.

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Volunteers gather at the church to prepare to feed hundreds of people who are less fortunate.

But it couldn't work without Sister Corita Ambro.

In a big bustling room, it's easy to lose track of Sister Corita, but this room would stand empty without her.

"I call her my little sweetheart, she's definitely the boss, but she's so humble in her service she doesn't feel like shew has to do everything, she knows 'hey, I need help' and I don't mind taking it," Pastor and volunteer Trishelle Robinson said.

She makes this meal at St. Augustine's a reality for more than 50 years. And even though others may have taken over to cook for and feed hundreds of meals, her presence isn't just appreciated, it is loved.

"Every holiday, it's meant so much to me and it means so much to these people, they tell me about it all the time because I stop to visit," Sister Corita Ambro said.

It's a place where volunteers and those looking for food and fellowship can drop by on Thanksgiving, but also year round.

"Seeing the faces that we see here every month come here and they get the love and they get the attention they need, and then they recognize you like 'hey, I remember you,'" Robinson said.

Thursday's feast of turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes and more brings a sense of the holidays to everyone, no matter what they're experiencing outside the church's doors.

"Thanksgiving is just to be thankful that you can give back to other people, that it's not about you, but it's about the others that we feed," Program Assistant Renee Hooks said.

Regardless of how busy it gets this year, Sister Corita is ready for the next time she can make a visit to the program she built.

"I'm overjoyed, I'm overjoyed to see it all, I'm retired now, but I'm so grateful for Catholic Charities for taking over for me," Ambro said.

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