SAN FRANCISCO (CBS13) — For hundreds of volunteers in San Francisco preparing food for the sick and elderly is as much a Christmas tradition as Santa and presents.

This is the true spirit of Christmas at work selflessness and service to others.

“There are some people who are really in need,” said volunteer Pierre Fraysse. “And being able to do something to help them is really nice.”

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Each of the volunteers has sacrificed sleep, and their Christmas morning with their own families to be at the Salvation Army. They prepared more than 4,000 meals for people who are homebound, hobbled by age or illness.

“That’s part of giving back,” said volunteer Greg Broyles. “That’s part of being part of the community. Making sure that people don’t go hungry, especially on Christmas.”

For 50 years, the Salvation Army has enlisted a small army of recruits to make hot meals and hand-deliver them to people without their help might have none this holiday season.

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“I think that’s why people come out and help because it just makes them feel good to help someone else And reach out to their fellow man,” Salvation Army Major Mark Nelson told KPIX 5.

The volunteers gave the gift of themselves and were repaid in gratitude and in the joy of knowing they’d helped someone in need on Christmas. All 4000 meals were delivered by noon on Christmas Day.