Volunteers serve up free Easter dinners in the Alle-Kiski Valley
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Monday, April 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Colorful marshmallow Peeps sat atop cake slices Sunday in the basement of Tarentum's Central Presbyterian Church, where people gathered for a free Easter dinner.
The church is where Holy Smokes Cafe has been offering regular, donation-only Sunday meals for about a year. It was the first time, with the help of the church and its members, for an Easter dinner there.
The basement quickly filled, leaving Holy Smokes owner Scott Mishler of Springdale Township to wonder if he had enough food.
About the same time, across the river in Arnold, Lighthouse Ministries was coping with an overflow crowd, as the tiny building was changed from a worship space to a dining room.
Lighthouse Pastor Steve Gabor said he would let people in as he could while complying with occupancy limits.
At Central Presbyterian, Samuel Watts was in the spirit, putting a pair of white-and-pink bunny ears atop his black AC/DC knit cap. He said he moved to Tarentum from Hollywood, Calif., a year ago, and came to the Easter meal alone.
“I came here every Sunday. They do a great breakfast,” he said. “I never seen anything like this, even in California.
“It's an amazing thing they're doing for the public,” he said.
This is the first year the church has offered a dinner on Easter, said Dave Rankin of Harrison, a church elder. All 80 seats were taken.
“We're trying to reach out to the community,” he said. “I'm pleased to see the response.”
Mishler said the buffet menu included ham, lamb, roast beef, lasagna, lobster bisque, sides and desserts. Church members donated much of the food.
“If anybody leaves here hungry, it's their fault,” he said.
“This is our family. We're going to have Easter dinner for our family, and whoever wants to come and be part of our family is welcome,” he said.
The Rev. Bob Dayton put on a puppet show. A retired Presbyterian minister, he's been preaching at the church on a fill-in basis since February.
“This is really a good idea,” he said. “Churches ought to be reaching out to the community.”
Ham also was on the menu at Lighthouse Ministries in Arnold, where preparation began three days before. Before the meal was a service focusing on Christ's Resurrection.
“We fed their souls; now we're going to feed their bodies,” Gabor said.
“Some of these people can't afford to eat, or they're lonely and have no one to fellowship with,” he said.
Jeremy Nicholson of Murrysville said he helped with the dinner because giving back to the community was in his heart.
“There's a lot of blackness down in these parts,” he said. “People need to know they're loved and don't have to live the way they do.”
For 12 years, Gabor and his wife, Becky, have offered meals on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
Easter “is the most important day of the year to me,” Steve Gabor said.
Becky Gabor pointed out four homeless people sitting down to eat and talked of the people she and her husband have helped.
Christina Rochlinski of New Kensington came with her son and two daughters.
“I think it's good,” she said. “They're helping people.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- DA will audit Gilpin evidence
- Icy roads put drivers on the skids
- Woman accused of assault over rap music to attend anger management classes
- Spending will rise, but real estate taxes won’t in Arnold
- Education Partnership provides school supplies to Fort Crawford students in New Kensington
- Questions on police shakeup go unanswered in Gilpin
- Cheswick passes spending plan with no increases in fees or taxes
- Butler County hunter found dead in Cowanshannock
- Apollo Elks reopens after reaching agreement with national organization
- Tri-City Life Center creates gift wonderland for struggling families
- More people choosing traditional Christmas tree, growers say