About 1,200 people received $20 each today at the Father Woody memorial cash giveaway at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Capitol Hill.
Some in the crowd arrived at 5 a.m. to get a place in line for the giveaway that started at 10 a.m., said Denver Sheriff Sgt. Mark Martinez.
The tradition started when the late Msgr. C.B. "Father Woody" Woodrich was pastor of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in downtown Denver. He started opening doors of the church on cold nights so the homeless could keep warm. He later persuaded donors to give him money to give away $10 at a time.
Father Woody defused critics, who argued that the homeless would only go to the nearest liquor store, by saying that at least once a year they could at least afford to buy the good stuff.
He also noted that $10 gave the people dignity, that they could walk around, if only for awhile, with cash in their pockets.
Msgr. Tom Fryar told the 600 in the church — and an equal number outside who could hear — that the true gifts of the season are ones they could all give — compassion, kindness, humility.
Sylvia Estrada, 36, is a single mom with two children. She was among those in line. She goes through life on "live by," which she said is shorthand for living by day to day.
"I'm going to put it away for food," she said. "We have a hard time."
Her older child, Sarah, 16, received $20, too.
"She wants to buy a Christmas present for her brother," Estrada said.
The Denver Post