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Lions Club dinner benefits community organizations across North Hills

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Michael Quinn cooks 15 gallons of homemade spaghetti sauce each year for the Lions Club spaghetti dinner.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Michael Quinn cooks 15 gallons of homemade spaghetti sauce each year for the Lions Club spaghetti dinner.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Michael Quinn cooks 15 gallons of homemade spaghetti sauce each year for the Lions Club spaghetti dinner.

Michael Quinn doesn't think twice about the request to prepare a 15-gallon batch of spaghetti sauce.

For more than a decade, the Hampton resident has pulled out the largest pots he can find in the basement kitchen of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church in Shaler Township and cooked three different kinds of homemade sauce for the Elfinwild Lions Club biannual spaghetti dinner.

“It's been such a hit for the last few years,” Quinn said. “People come up and say ‘you ought to bottle this up and sell it.' People, they look forward to it.”

Quinn again will cook up a batch of his sauces for this month's fundraising spaghetti dinner on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Elfinwild Presbyterian Church.

Quinn uses tomato sauce, tomato paste, whole Italian tomatoes and herbs for the base and then adds additional ingredients to create the signature meat, sausage and vegetable sauces.

“We don't skimp on anything,” Quinn said. “That's why it's so good, because it's homemade.”

In addition to the sauces — which take the entire day before the event to prepare — Quinn also cooks 40 pounds of pasta. On the day of the dinner, cooks put the finishing touches on the sauces and pasta and prepare breadsticks.

Volunteers also bake 400 to 500 desserts for the dinner.

The Lions Club members pay extra attention to the details to make the event special for visitors. The tables of the church hall will be dressed in red-and-white checkered tablecloths and candelabras, and the evening's entertainment will be provided by the Lions Club acting president Lou Gamber of Richland and his accordion.

Gamber has been playing accordion since he was a teenager. He volunteered his musical skills to add to the Italian theme of the event.

Gamber upgraded to a digital accordion, which replaces the traditional reeds with a computer-like system similar to modern keyboards, and allows Gamber to play everything from big band music to country tunes.

“I generally do a lot of Italian because the accordion has a mandolin on it,” Gamber said. “And I do requests. People sing and we have a great time.”

The Lions Club is a nonprofit group of men and women who raise money and volunteer for humanitarian causes. All proceeds from the spaghetti dinner, the Elfinwild club's largest fundraiser, go back to the community through an annual $1,000 scholarship or donations made by the Elfinwild Lions Club to community organizations.

The Lions Club is best known for providing eyeglasses and eye exams to those in need, but the Elfinwild Lions Club also provides donations and support to Meals on Wheels, North Hills Community Outreach, food pantries and libraries in their coverage area that includes Hampton, Pine, Richland, Shaler, Millvale, Sharpsburg and Aspinwall.

“We perform quite a service,” Gamber said. “Of the $10,000 to $12,000 raised (each year), every dime of it goes out to the community. We don't use one penny of it for management.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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