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Bozeman recovery center hosts Christmas for the homeless

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 25 2012 07:11:34 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

"Anybody want another Christmas gift?" asked Diana Willis, as she held an armful of green gift bags.

Willis works at the Open Arms Drop-In Center, and didn't want anyone to feel left out on Christmas day.

"We wanted to provide a sober holiday party so all these people had somewhere to belong, and to spend Christmas Day. And they had companionship" she said.

She organized the center's first ever holiday party, open to anyone needing a place to spend Christmas. Willis said she used to be homeless herself, and knows what it's like to be alone for the holidays.

So she made sure the dozens that attended weren't- people like Rudy Fanska, a man from Kansas City who's been homeless in Bozeman for a few months.

"I would have gone to 19th Street and I-90, the rest stop. And I would have slept in the... back of my pick-up" Fanska said.

Instead of spending Christmas in his car, he said "we sang carols, we ate and ate and then we ate again."

Willis and a few volunteers cooked breakfast and lunch, and even passed out presents filled with community donations.

"Socks- nice socks too" said Bob Riley, a homeless man from Los Angeles, as he pulled thermal socks out of his green gift bag. Other items included hand warmers, gift cards to local restaurants, shoe laces and chapstick.

"We just wanted to let everybody enjoy their Christmas day" Willis said.

Volunteer Kraig Mosby told us around 45 people attended the holiday party at Open Arms.

Participants like Fanska and Riley said they were grateful for all the donations, and that Willis and the others took time out of their own Christmas to make the day so special.