Existing board members commit to running Holte meals

Volunteers prep turkey to be served to residents at a Marley Holte Dinner. More than 100 people volunteer each year to prepare and serve meals to 350 people at the annual Marley Holte Dinners. The dinners are held on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Volunt

It looks as though the Marley Holte Holiday Dinners might live on past this year, after all.
Following the announcement earlier this month that this would be the final year of the tradition – board members Larry Brown and Jason Noble cited that the group members were aging and wanting to spend holidays with family – other existing board members are stepping forward and committing to the effort beyond 2013.
Longtime Holte volunteer Ruben Lopez notified the Free Lance that he and other board members, including Edwardo Servin and Kirk Tognazzini, planned to help organize the dinners in 2014. Lopez said the League of United Latin American Citizens also expressed interest in helping and that its officials were concerned about the possible end to the annual dinners.
“I definitely want to pursue it,” said Lopez, a San Juan Bautista resident and retired educator.
The late Marley Holte and his wife started the dinners in the mid-1980s when they decided one year to put together a meal for others instead of buying each other Christmas gifts. Holte continued running the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals at Sacred Heart’s gym – they have drawn hundreds of people annually and reached a peak of 1,000 one year – until his passing in 2006.
Those gatherings have involved a slew of volunteers and donations, with the most prep work occurring the evenings before the holidays and on the holiday mornings, before serving a target of 300 people starting at 11 a.m.
Brown, who has largely acted as chairman of the board since Holte died, and Noble previously said it had become too much for the board members.
Noble late last week said the current board members and others outside the group had shown interest in running the dinners since the recent announcement. Initially, he said the board as a whole had agreed to go through these coming holidays to see how things pan out – and to find out whether someone else steps forward to take it on ¬¬- before making a final decision moving ahead.
Noble said he is happy to have others take on the dinners, but he believes it is important for the future organizer to be involved in the 2013 meals to learn the ropes.
“I don’t think there’s any reason not to (support Lopez’s group),” Noble said. “We’ve had interest from others as well.”
Lopez is drawn to continuing on with the tradition because Holte was always a big supporter of his.
“He was a good man,” Lopez said. “I don’t want to just let it go.”

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