Termini Bros. Bakery has been slinging Italian desserts for 98 years and has never run out of cannoli on Christmas Eve.

This year, that could change. But it’s all for a good cause.

Every year on Christmas Eve, masses start lining up in the middle of the night — this year, the first customers arrived at 12:45 a.m. — to take part in what’s become a tradition: They stand outside under heat lamps and wait until they can get their cannoli when the store opens at 6 a.m.

Retail operation director Brianna Gee loads up a tray of cannoli at Termini Bros. Pastries.
Avi Steinhardt / For the Inquirer
Retail operation director Brianna Gee loads up a tray of cannoli at Termini Bros. Pastries.

There’s also usually a fund-raiser of some sort. This year’s is especially close to home.

The bakery is collecting donations for the victims of the explosion in South Philadelphia last week that left two people dead and five homes destroyed or damaged. The blast, which remains under investigation, was on the 1400 block of South Eighth Street, just a block north of the Termini Bros. flagship location.

Co-owner Vinny Termini said customers who donate $20 will get a Termini Bros. winter hat. They’re also selling Termini aprons. Donations are being collected at all four Termini locations — on Eighth Street, at Reading Terminal Market, in the Market and Shops at the Comcast Center, and in the Packer Park Shopping Center — and all proceeds will go to the Passyunk Square Civic Association, which will get the donations to the families affected.

Ash Yezvita of Philadelphia eats a cannoli while she and many others wait in line at Termini Bros..
Avi Steinhardt / For the Inquirer
Ash Yezvita of Philadelphia eats a cannoli while she and many others wait in line at Termini Bros..

Termini said the wait at the Eighth Street bakery was about two hours long at 9 a.m. But don’t worry: They don’t let people stand outside in the cold. Instead, the line is brought inside and snakes through the bakery and the kitchen, where folks are serenaded with Christmas music and enjoy coffee and hot chocolate.

“It’s about the Christmas tradition of family,” Termini said, “and what’s special to people.”