The Holnaider Dinner Feeds Latrobe

The meaning of Thanksgiving is not only to just give thanks, but to give back to others. The Holnaider family has hosted a free Thanksgiving Dinner for the past 19 years at St. Vincent Grove, where they serve about 200 meals each year in only about 30 minutes.

The family includes Bonita Holnaider, and her sons Michael and Anthony Sisak. Also, Bonita’s sibling Bridget, and her children Jeffrey and Giovanna Jones,  Bernadette and her daughter Cheyenne Lesko, Brian, Bruce, Bernard and Bruno.

Junior, Anthony, helps his mother who organizes the whole dinner. “I like when all my family gets together and we help others,” said Anthony who has been helping the adults since he turned 13.

Bonita, who is one of 7 children, appreciates the people in life.  Bonita said, “I think nobody should be home alone for Thanksgiving.” Bonita’s other son Michael, a graduate of the 2014 class of Greater Latrobe High School, enjoys stuffing the turkey most.

Cheyenne Lesko, a Senior at GLHS, loves helping out her aunts, uncles,  and grandparents Diana and Bruno. She loves being involved and helping others who necessarily cannot  provide a Thanksgiving feast for themselves. All of Diana and Bruno’s nine grandchildren love helping out each year, Michael, Anthony, Cheyenne, Jeffrey, Giovanna, Emily, Marie, Bruno and Scarlett.

Preparations for the big event begin mid October. They start collecting donations, organizing their food purchases, and advertising for the event. The family spends their Thanksgiving eve up at the Grove making all the food and preparing it for their guests.

 The festivities include a DJ before dinner and door prizes and activities afterwards. The event is more than just an eat-and-leave, giving the guests a chance to mingle with friends.

Pat Conroy, a retired Greater Latrobe School District teacher is excited to help, alongside his wife, Mary Ann for yet another year. Conroy told TribLive, “It’s part of our day. The day would be different if we didn’t do it.”

The meal includes eight turkeys, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, dinner rolls, and the traditional pumpkin pie. Doors will open at 11 a.m and food is served at noon. Not only do they serve the meal each year but also conduct home deliveries. Being a large family who grew up on a farm, big Thanksgivings have always been a tradition, luckily, the Holnaider’s carried it on to others. Instead of having their own family feast, they expand the love.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving; the Joy of Giving.