Hospitality and joy is year round at St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room

by Linda Hubbard on December 6, 2010

The line of politely waiting patrons was already dozens deep when stopped by St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room last week. Also waiting were two of the non-profit  organization’s volunteers, Bob Dehn and Patricia Papalian (pictured above). on hand to give a tour of the festively decorated dining room and gleaming kitchen.

Bob, who coordinates St. Anthony’s many volunteers – both individuals and groups –  had a list of non-profits to investigate when he retired from SRI in 2007; St. Anthony’s was the first one he checked out. “I thought I’d contribute my services to different places over the course of a week or month,” he says. “But I just got ‘stuck’ here. I’ve always had an interest in cooking for large groups – and St. Anthony’s certainly qualifies!”

The Dining Room began serving low-income elderly a weekend meal supplement in 1974. It’s now a six-day-a-week (Mon-Sat) year round operation serving up to 600 hot midday meals. The three big meals of the year are Thanksgiving , Christmas and Easter. A holiday wish list for both food and clothing is posted on the organization’s website. If you’re interested in volunteering, call (650) 365-9665.

Patricia, a new volunteer, is involved with media relations and development. “I was unsure at first if I’d be up to the challenge,” she says. “But I quickly found out what a happy, joyful place this is. It’s becomes addictive – you just want to come back. It’s so much more than just providing food and clothing, it’s a whole culture that really nourishes people.”

In addition to Christmas dinner from noon to 2:00 pm, St. Anthony’s hosts a toy giveaway on Christmas Eve starting at 7:00 am. Children two to 14 are given the opportunity to pick out one unwrapped toy. People interested in donating toys – or food and clothing – should drop them by St. Anthony’s, which is located at 3500 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park. The organization also welcomes your donation of cash by either check or credit card.

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