From Sewickley and beyond, organizations offers meals on Thanksgiving
By Joanne Barron
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
With so many free meals offered on Thanksgiving Day throughout the region, there is no need for anyone to sit at home, alone.
St. James School
Dinners are offered Nov. 28, not only to those with income restrictions, but to anyone who wants to go — especially those who otherwise would stay by themselves, organizers said.
In Sewickley, the dinner will be held for the seventh year at 1 p.m. in St. James School cafeteria, 200 Walnut St.
Rett King of Sewickley Hills, organizer for this year's event, said she began going to the dinner three years ago because her family is out of town on the holidays. She ended up volunteering.
King, who took over for Joann Matten of Moon, said so many volunteers know what they are doing that it's easy for her to be in charge.
“I don't know their number, but there are more than enough to cook for two days, set up for two days, serve, seat and greet,” she said.
Parkway West Rotary and Moon Rotary provide turkeys and cash donations. Rick Strong of Results! Travel in Moon helps to coordinate donations.
Diners are encouraged to take a dessert to share with the more than 100 people.
“I think the best thing about this dinner is that it is a community effort, with such a giving spirit that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else,” King said.
Reservations can be made at the church or rectory or by calling King at 412-749-8172.
Center for Hope
This will be the first time Center for Hope, 740 Park Road, Ambridge, will have a free Thanksgiving luncheon for its Ambridge Area Food Pantry clients.
Sewickley United Methodist Church is providing food for the 11:30 a.m. meal, along with several Ambridge churches and Giant Eagle in Leetsdale.
Sewickley Confectionery is providing ice cream, and center director Sue Otto said many Sewickley residents have volunteered to help. For more information or to help, call 724-251-4899.
For the fourth year, Derek Gutkowski, owner of Manor Grille in Westmoreland County, will offer a free Thanksgiving dinner at his restaurant, 100 Harrison City Road, Manor.
The event started with about 40 diners the first year and has grown to about 100, he said. Donations continue to pour in for the meal, which will be served from 1 to 5 p.m.
The South Side native said he and his wife, Megan, and children Madison, 9; Julia, 7, and Howie, 4, planned to pay for the dinner, but people in community wanted to help. After the meal is served, surplus food is donated to local food pantries or churches.
Gutkowski, former chef at Grandview Golf Club in North Braddock, said his family offers the meals to do something good to the community that has been good to them.
“And, we want to show our children that you don't have to have a lot of money to help people. You can give your time,” he said.
For more information, call Gutkowski at 724-861-3404.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
For the 14th year, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 822 Main St., Mt. Pleasant, is offering a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Usually, more than 200 diners attend, and no money or good-will offerings are accepted, said church secretary Sandy Santmyer of Ruffs Dale.
Businesses, individuals and other churches donate food and money. Many times, those who come to eat volunteer later.
“It has become like a big family. Once you come once, you are family and you want to come back,” Santmyer said.
Those who need transportation in the Mt. Pleasant area can call the church for a ride, but there is no need to make a reservation for dinner.
“You can walk in and interact with people, but you don't have to. And, there are always church members there if you need to talk to someone,” she said.
“It's amazing. This is about more than nourishing the body. This is what Thanksgiving is all about.”
For more information, call 724-547-5941.
Garden City United Methodist Church
For the 23rd year, Sherry and Dick Reid of Monroeville will coordinate a free Thanksgiving meal at noon at Garden City United Methodist Church, 500 Laurel Drive, Monroeville.
About 65 people normally attend the event that started as a pot luck dinner years ago, and about 40 volunteers help to cook and serve, Sherry Reid said. Area restaurants, stores and church members make donations.
For reservations, call the church at 412-373-0391.
St. Vincent Grove
For the 17th year, about 20 members of the Holnaider family of Latrobe and other volunteers will provide free Thanksgiving meals at noon on Thanksgiving Day at St. Vincent Grove, a recreation hall owned by Saint Vincent Basilica Parish Church, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe.
Bonita Sisak said volunteers cook for about 200 people. Some eat in the hall, some take out food and others have meals delivered. Donations for the meal come from members of the church and community. Local transportation can be provided. For reservations, call Sisak at 724-532-2840.
Thanksgiving Day meals around the region:
• St. Barnabas Health System will offer free holiday meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to patients, their families and community members at St. Barnabas Nursing Home, 5827 Meridian Road, Richland Township, 724-443-0700; The Arbors III at St. Barnabas, 6005 Valencia Road, Richland Township, 724-625-1530; and Valencia Woods at St. Barnabas, 85 Charity Place, Richland Township, 724-625-4000, ext. 228.
Reservations are appreciated. No questions will be asked of those attending.
• Coraopolis United Methodist Church, 1205 Ridge Ave., will provide meals from noon to 5 p.m. for those in the West Hills area. Holiday football games will be shown. Call 412-264-3727 to make reservations or a contribution.
• Armbrust Wesleyan Church, 7790 Route 819, Armbrust, will serve a community Thanksgiving meal at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 27. Worship will be after the meal. Call 724-925-9110 for information or transportation.
• The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division will serve eight public holiday dinners from Nov. 21 to Nov. 28 across Allegheny County, with help from Bottom Dollar Food. For locations, visit www.salvationarmywpa.org and look under “Allegheny County Media Calendar.”
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406.
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