Alle-Kiski churches offer free turkey meals on Thanksgiving

Free turkey meals were flying out the door on Thanksgiving morning at St. Mary’s Church in Freeport.

Four years ago, the parish began cooking, packing and giving away Thanksgiving turkey meals with all the trimmings.

It’s outreach with no strings attached, just a free hot meal on Thanksgiving, said St. Mary’s pastoral associate and volunteer Bill Girardi.

Demand is up 25% this year, with 70 more meals requested, Girardi said.

“We are blessed to share our blessings with those who are alone or unable to cook or provide for a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Girardi said.


Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

St. Mary’s Church volunteers (left to right) Jamie Ballina, Edison Buige and Michaela Mattivi prepare free Thanksgiving meals for distribution Thursday at the church social hall in Freeport.

About 50 volunteers worked for two days in the St. Mary’s kitchen, preparing 19 turkeys and sides of mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing and dessert.

Dinner returned again this year at St. Mary’s and Buffalo Township couple Pat and Robert Linhart enjoyed a quiet meal before their family planned to celebrate together the day after Thanksgiving due to family logistics.

“We try to give them a donation and they won’t even accept it,” said Pat Linhart. “It’s just wonderful what they do.”

Her husband agreed.

“The food is good and there is a lot of it,” said Robert Linhard.


Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Pat and Robert Linhart of Buffalo Township enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal at St. Mary’s Church in Freeport.

St. Mary’s partnered with Zion Methodist Church in Buffalo Township to prepare more than 250 turkey meals.

Lindsay Crawford from Buffalo Township was one of 25 volunteers who helped out Thursday.

Crawford brought her daughter Holly and it was her first time volunteering at Thanksgiving.

“It is important to help others, especially on a day like today. I want my daughter to learn to always show kindness and volunteering is a priority,” Crawford said.

The tradition of the turkey of Taranto

At the Central Presbyterian Church in Tarentum, Pastor Robert Dayton said they hoped to give out more than 130 meals.

Participants had the option of dining to go or dining in person inside the basement clubroom.

Decorative pumpkins with inspirational prayers served as centerpieces.

Central Presbyterian began offering free turkey meals during the 1990s and for the 25 volunteers who prepare for multiple days to make sure there is enough food, it has always been about the community.

“The covid restrictions are gone, but we don’t have as many people choosing the dine-in option. There is more demand for takeout,” Dayton said.


Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

John Kania, a volunteer with Central Presbyterian Church, prepares mashed potatoes for the church’s annual free Thanksgiving dinner held in the church’s Tarentum social hall.

John Kania, a Central Presbyterian volunteer, worked in the kitchen and helped cook 10 turkeys and prepare 30 pounds of mashed potatoes.

Diner Christine Train, 83, of Harrison enjoyed a hearty helping of food on Thanksgiving while meeting new friends.

“It’s very good. I’m hungry,” he said. “I wanted to be around people.”

Dayton praised the hard work of community volunteers, including coordinator Dave Rankin, who made the foodie event possible.

“It’s just part of our way of expressing our faith here. It’s just one of the things we’re supposed to do,” Dayton said.

Turkey time is back for dinner

Cross Roads Community Presbyterian Church in Leechburg hosted more than 30 diners for in-person meals on Thanksgiving.

“I felt like it was time,” organizer Jamie Rimmel said. “It feels great to have people dining together again after the pandemic.”

Rimmel said the demand for meals increased slightly from last year by about 10 servings.

In all, the volunteers handed out more than 160 turkey dinners.


Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

Vandergrift volunteer Ryan Beatty helped deliver meals to the two senior high-rises in Leechburg.

“I help because it’s a family tradition,” Beatty said.

Beatty’s 3-year-old daughter Brooklyn volunteered to help pack the desserts for the turkey takeout meals.

“My favorite part was the cake,” Brooklyn said.

Joyce Hanz is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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