During their Thanksgiving vacations, Sara Impellicceiri and members of her family would partake in free holiday dinners.
“But I never helped volunteer for one, because I just never had the opportunity,” the Bethel Park High School junior said. “So being able to do this has been a great experience.”
She was among the many helpers providing the logistical support for Ma and Pop’s Country Kitchen to serve more than 400 complimentary meals on Nov. 23, the fifth such Thanksgiving offering by restaurant owners Steve and Erica Diethorn.
Sara is the community service vice president of her school’s chapter of DECA Inc., a nonprofit that strives to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in the realms of business.
“I’ve always had a passion for community giving,” she said. “So once I found out it was a category in DECA, I knew it was something that I wanted to do.”
She and Abigail Goldenberg, another Bethel Park junior, teamed up for their DECA service project by spending four hours at Ma and Pop’s the night before Thanksgiving — working on tasks such as cutting slices of pie, chopping onions for stuffing and folding to-go boxes — before returning for the majority of the following day.
“I love how many people they’re helping,” Abigail said about the Diethorns’ largesse, “and it’s just a wonderful thing.”
For the owners of the Bethel Park restaurant at South Park Road and Bertha Street, the annual dinner makes for quite a long couple of days.
“We started yesterday shortly after dinnertime doing all the prep work,” Erica Diethorn said on Thanksgiving. “Then we left here last night at 11:30, and back at 6.”
Despite lacking somewhat in the sleep department, the Diethorns turned up the energy all day as guests arrived for sit-down dinners or to pick up meals to take back to their families.
To liven up the proceedings, musicians performed, including Bethel Park students Micaila Metz and Cameron Wallace playing Christmas carols on violin and double bass, respectively.
All the assistance certainly was appreciated by the Diethorns.
“We wouldn’t be here without them, and this would not work without all the people volunteering,” Erica said. “So we are very pleased that we have all the help we get.”
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She and Steve have offered free Thanksgiving dinners since shortly after opening Ma and Pop’s.
“We’re here for the community, so if we can help, we want to help,” she said. “It’s our way of giving back to them, because without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Harry Funk is a Tribune-Review news editor. You can contact Harry at firstname.lastname@example.org.