And what about the family in the comfortable rental home, with a quinceañera photo on proud display? Dad is a painter but hasn't worked in months. His wife snags odd jobs cleaning houses. They asked for food and a gift for their 6-year-old, "so she can have a Christmas, like they gave her brothers and sisters," Gilbert said.
She registered them as "needy" too but predicted they would be "truly needy" when Christmas rolls around next year.
The day put a face on economic woes. It turned politics personal.
I can imagine the computers booting up, the comments headed for our message board. Because illegal immigration was the elephant in those tiny living rooms.
Many of the people we interviewed were men without papers who can't find jobs; women who've lived here for 10 years but still needed translators. Those are facts. But I saw faces. And I wasn't the only volunteer who came away chastened.