January 25, 2023 | Stories

Holte Holiday Dinners - Feeding those in Need

Holte Holiday Dinners - Feeding those in Need
Photo provided by Eduardo Servin.

Giving back and serving those in need has been the focus driving the annual Holte Holiday Dinners. Since the mid-1980s, Holte Holiday Dinners has been feeding hundreds of individuals and families in Hollister for both Thanksgiving and Christmas with the help of kindhearted, passionate volunteers and donors. The Community Foundation for San Benito County provided funding for this annual event in partnership with Chang So of Hollister Super, who facilitated acquisition of turkeys and helped to offer meals to over 360 people in our community. “We really appreciate the Community Foundation. Without the help, we might not have had any turkeys!” Eduardo Servin, Chairman of the Holte Holiday Dinner.

The Holiday Dinner tradition started in 1986 when retired teacher Marley Holte and his wife decided that instead of exchanging Christmas gifts, they would help feed seniors, low-income, homeless, or anyone else in need of a hot meal. The Holtes expanded the service by providing meals at Thanksgiving and offering donated toys at Christmas. Holte Holiday Dinners eventually outgrew the Senior Center in Hollister and moved to Sacred Heart School’s gym, where crowds of people would come to sit and enjoy a prepared meal, and kids could line up for gifts at Christmas.

After Marley Holte passed away in 2006, friends that volunteered alongside him over the years decided to keep the tradition alive by continuing Holte Holiday Dinners. For the last twenty years, the Holte Holiday Dinners have been put together by Servin and Rubin Lopez, along with some long-time volunteers. “People have come all the way from San Jose and even San Diego to help,” Eduardo said. “We’re like one big family together.”

The pandemic stopped them from having the dinners at Sacred Heart, but didn’t stop Servin and Rubin from providing meals. For the last three years, Servin organized a drive-through pick up from out of his home with meals prepped using the Sacred Heart kitchen and served from under a large tent over Servin’s driveway. Mike Mansmith graciously volunteered to come bright and early at 4 AM to season and smoke the turkeys. Volunteers do everything else that is needed, including last-minute prep and packaging of the food into containers. A line of cars flowed down the street and around the corner with families gratefully waiting to get one of the Holiday meals and toys for their kids. Year after year, these volunteers see the many happy and appreciative faces of individuals and families, along with the bright-eyed kids excited to get a new toy. “We’re proud to continue Holte’s legacy,” Servin said. “We’re part of the community and we’re part of Hollister. There are a lot of people in our community in need, especially during these hard times in the winter.”

"We’re proud to continue Holte’s legacy. We’re part of the community and we’re part of Hollister. There are a lot of people and our community in need, especially during these hard times in the winter.” — Eduardo Servin, Chair of Holte Holiday Dinners

Mike Mansmith with beautifully cooked turkeys.
Kids get to pick through a bundle of wrapped gifts, categorized by age groups.
Some of the Holte volunteer crew.
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