State legislator's Christmas Day dinner tradition still going in Uniontown

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Moved by the words that he heard during a sermon given prior to the holidays in 2010, state Rep. Timothy Mahoney decided there was no better way to teach the message of the importance of giving then leading by example.

It was that year that the representative decided to begin what would turn into a holiday tradition — offering a cost-free meal on Christmas Day.

“This is our way of giving back to the community, and we are now serving upward of 250 people,” Mahoney said. “No one should ever be alone at Christmas, and we cordially open our doors to anyone who wants to come spend Christmas dinner with us. Everyone is welcome, not just constituents of the 51st Legislative District.”

The meal will be served by Mahoney, his family, staff and volunteers from the community who have reached out to his office with offers of help with the big dinner that has steadily grown in participation over the years.

“The participation has been so overwhelming,” said Jennifer Jeffries, Mahoney's district office chief of staff. “When Rep. Mahoney started this dinner four years ago we only served around 60 people. We are now up to about 250 people. Not only are we serving about 300 people Christmas Day dinner but we have an amazing turnout of volunteers. We have had about 70 people call the office to volunteer their time for this event and it is truly heartwarming that they would take time from their own family on Christmas Day and spend time with people who would otherwise be eating alone.”

There are no income guidelines or criteria to be met, just the simple desire to share a holiday meal with others in a festive setting that brings the true meaning of the Christmas holiday to all.

“It's a traditional dinner with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and vegetables that is prepared by Hartsek's Catering in Uniontown,” Jeffries said. “This year we will be preparing for 300.”

Jeffries said families and individuals from all walks of life participate.

“The majority of individuals we serve are the elderly widows and widowers, followed by larger families,” Jeffries said. “We have seen the same people with few new faces each year.”

The meal is totally free to the taxpayers of the area, with the representative and his family covering the entire cost of everything.

“The feedback that we get is for the most part the individuals and families being so thankful because otherwise they would have ate alone or not even at all,” Jeffries said. “The volunteers are most thankful to Rep. Mahoney for hosting this event and giving them an opportunity to give back by helping to serve the dinner to the community and that's what it's all about.”

The dinner will be served from noon to 2 p.m. Christmas Day at the Cabaret, 62 W. Peter St. in Uniontown.

For information call 724-438-6100.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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