SACRAMENTO -- The spirit of giving was very apparent on Christmas Day at Loaves and Fishes, especially for those who need it most.
Volunteers with hearts of gold spread holiday cheer and a huge meal.
It's exactly what John Chavez needed.
"Merry Christmas, I love you. Couldn't survive without you," he said.
The former construction worker has been homeless for 11 years. With no job and no family close by, he spent Christmas with his friends, people who he calls his new family, at Loaves and Fishes.
"Love is love," Chavez said. "Family is everybody. That's what God expected from everybody."
He is just one of hundreds of homeless Sacramentans who got a warm meal at the facility, primarily by volunteers.
"Whatever your religion, all great religions teach us to take care of those amongst us, who need our help," said Joan Burke, Director of Advocacy at Loaves and Fishes. "And today is a day where we get to do that."
Someone who took that to heart was Mayor Darrel Steinberg, who immediately took up a pair of tongs. Steinberg, who is Jewish, does not celebrate Christmas, but he talked football, wished a happy holiday and served his constituents.
"There's nothing more important than helping people who are really down and out," Steinberg said. "For me, I just want to be among the people to say thank you."
In 2017, the city was able to set aside $108 million for the homeless. He says next year will be a year of great change.
"We got a great start in 2017; 2018 is the year for housing, housing, housing," Steinberg said. "This is a city that can achieve the extraordinary, especially around helping people in need."
People like Chavez, who really needs a break. He is in temporary housing now, but hopes one day he can get a permanent place he can call home.