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Family feeds all takers in Thanksgiving tradition at St. Vincent Grove

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“The holidays aren't just about gifts; it's about spending time together, and that's what we try to teach our own kids.”

Bonita Sisak

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Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 8:37 p.m.

The hustle and bustle of feeding 200 people on Thanksgiving Day doesn't intimidate the 15 to 20 members of the Holnaider family and volunteers who will prepare the holiday meal on Thursday at St. Vincent Grove.

Bonita Sisak said that beginning on Wednesday, she, her mother and sisters work on chopping vegetables and making stuffing while her father and brothers clean the eight turkeys for the dinner.

There is an order to the chaos, which has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition, since Diana and Bruno Holnaider and their eight children, along with their families, started it 18 years ago.

The dinner is meant for anyone alone on the holiday, as it has been from the beginning, Sisak said, to impart the caring taught to her and her siblings.

“My parents have instilled in us we should share what we have,” Sisak said. “The holidays aren't just about gifts; it's about spending time together, and that's what we try to teach our own kids.”

Pat Conroy, a retired Greater Latrobe teacher, has volunteered with the family, dishing out free helpings of turkey, stuffing and potatoes for about eight or nine years with his wife, Mary Ann.

About 150 meals are served at 300 Fraser Purchase Road, while Conroy and other volunteers deliver about 50 meals to senior citizens and taxi some to the dinner.

Doors open at 11 a.m., when diners can munch on appetizers before the meal is served between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church at 331 Weldon St. in Latrobe also holds a free Thanksgiving Day dinner at noon Thursday.

“We're all doing it for the same reason,” Sisak said, praising the church volunteers.

At the Grove, much of the food and funding for the dinners is donated by parishioners of the St. Vincent Basilica parish. Sisak uses the rest of the donations to give each attendee a small door prize.

Live entertainment caps off the festive atmosphere, where Conroy is as happy to help out as those digging into mashed potatoes are happy for the homecooked meal, he said.

“I personally feel that we're all here to serve one another, and we should do that as often as we can,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or

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