BOSTON (CBS) – The annual Christmas meal at St. Francis House is something hundreds look forward to, and it takes a lot of hard work to put it all together.

While the holidays are called the most wonderful time of year, the season can be anything but joyful for people who are experiencing homelessness or down on their luck. That’s why Wednesday’s Christmas lunch at St. Francis is so important.

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Preparations started early in the morning, getting stuffed chicken, potatoes, dinner rolls and of course, desserts ready in the kitchen.

Preparing the holiday feast at St. Francis House (WBZ-TV)

“We will serve 350 guests,” Maggie Burns of St. Francis House said. “It’s just very festive and sweet.”

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It’s about more than just a hot meal.

“It can break your heart, thinking about someone being homeless on Christmas Day,” Burns said. “And we want them to get a sense of hope and love.”

Before lunch, Cardinal Sean O’Malley offered words of encouragement during a special service that included Christmas hymns.

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Christmas Day will be over soon, but it’s important to note that the work at St. Francis House never ends. It’s the largest day shelter in Massachusetts, serving about 500 people a day.