St. Theresa dinner spreads holiday cheer
Opening up a 15-gallon pot of pasta sauce she started preparing Thursday, Vicki Raucci Gonzales said she spent 50 hours getting ready for the Bread and Broth Christmas Dinner.
On Christmas Day, community members gathered at the St. Theresa parish hall for the second annual Christmas dinner. Last year, the event brought in more than 200 people.
Gonzales, the organizer of the event, said the dinner is her brainchild. She decided to start the event last year because she thought it was in tune with the spirit of Christmas.
“Out of all the days to leave people in a lurch, we need to do this on Christmas,” Gonzales said.
As people walked in the door, asking if they could help out, Father Michael O’Reilly of St. Theresa encouraged them to sit down and enjoy the dinner instead.
“We’ve got a lot of help,” O’Reilly said. “We need more eaters.”
O’Reilly said people often want to give on Christmas Day, which brings out the positive in a community. The event also brings people together, and that’s a central part of the holiday.
Marc Ryan, a South Lake Tahoe resident, said the volunteer-to-diner ratio appeared to be 1 to 1. He said every diner could have their own volunteer.
“It’s the only way to make a small town work,” he said, referring to community volunteers.
He and his wife, Julie, brought their relatives to the dinner to mingle with others. The Ryans moved to the South Shore a year ago, so they wanted to meet more of the community.
Tony Scheller said his two sons – Jamie, 16, and Tommy, 13 – attend the church. His sons volunteered during the morning for the dinner so that they could enjoy the meal.
All the Schellers agreed the cheerful nature of individuals over the holidays added to the ambiance of the event, but something else made for a great meal, too.
“The prime rib,” Tony Scheller said.