Michael Fuchs' tiny arms shake as he lifts the plate of steaming food above his head. He wriggles his little body between the two men and gently lowers the plate in front of one of them.

"Merry Christmas," the man says to Michael. Michael just nods and hurries back to the kitchen for another plate of food. Michael, 6, and his family were among 90 volunteers who served dinner to Salt Lake City's needy on Christmas Day."We're sort of filling a void here so people can get their meals on Christmas," said coordinator Kitty Kaplan. "St. Vincent de Paul's serves dinner every day of the year, but they give their staff Christmas Day off."

In their absence, Salt Lake City's Jewish community stepped in to prepare and serve the meal.

As people filled the dining room, the smell of roast beef filled the air. Families waited near the Christmas tree for vacant seats. As quickly as seats emptied, they were filled.

Irene and her children found four seats together and quickly began to eat the food that was placed in front of them.

"The food is good," Irene said. "At least it gives ussomething to eat today."

Compared to past holidays, this Christmas is a good one for her family.

"This is the first time they've ever gotten so many presents," she said of the gifts provided by the family shelter. And after eating as much as they wanted, they got a bag of goodies from two little girls standing near the exit.

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Jackie Port, 9, and Robin Tillery, 10, are cousins who said this is something they want to do every Christmas. They said that to them Christmas is just another day to help people.

"Sometimes they make me cry," Jackie said. "I feel bad because they probably want their families and they don't have homes."

The girls were surprised so many people turned out for the free meal.

"You should always be thankful for what you have," Robin said, holsinf a bag of candy that would soon find its way into another child's hands. "These kids don't have any toys and we just want more and more."

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