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Volunteers to help Holy Family Catholic Church in Latrobe host diners on Christmas Day

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Live music outside Holy Family Catholic Church will add to the festive atmosphere inside on Christmas Day.

About 70 volunteers from the Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association, including the musicians, will host a free Christmas dinner for 175 people in the church hall, 1200 Ligonier St.

“When you walk into the social hall of Holy Family, it's really transformed into a Christmas atmosphere,” said Darrel Dudik, co-facilitator for the eighth annual event with fellow Holy Family member Lauren DePalma. “You just walk in there and you know you're walking in to a special event.”

The dinner, which takes three months to plan, will include ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, corn, applesauce, coleslaw and dinner rolls, as well as pies and ice cream for dessert.

Doors will open at noon with appetizers, children's activities, Christmas carols and Scripture readings. Dinner will beserved from 1 to 2 p.m.

There is no cost for the dinner, in the spirit of the holiday, but tickets are required. Free transportation is available through Veterans Cab Co.

The Rev. William A. Schaefer, who leads Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, said the ecumenical association helps strengthen the Latrobe community, especially with the citywide help for the holiday dinner.

“We're blessed to have a great, diverse group of people that come together for the community,” Schaefer said. “We might not have the same theology, but we have the some mission, and that's to better the community.”

The organization includes about 28 pastors with 25 congregations throughout Latrobe, which plan other services and events during the year together, such as Easter and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Dudik said he enjoys being able to serve the diners and bring joy to them on Christmas.

“Some of these folks don't have anywhere to go, and we don't want them to be alone on Christmas Day,” he said.

Organizers begin dinner preparation on Christmas Eve, with some arriving at the event as early as 8 a.m. Dec. 25.

“We really couldn't do it without all the volunteers. They do a tremendous job,” Dudik said. “The volunteers of all ages feel just as blessed in the high-spirited atmosphere.”

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