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Luncheon, crafts fair going back to salad days
A scene from a previous holiday luncheon. - photo by Bulletin file photo

The longest-running fund-raiser at St. Anthony of Padua School, perhaps at any school in Manteca, is going back to its roots.

“We’re bringing back the salads,” said Kelly Holdren of the Nov. 13 Holiday Luncheon & Crafts event taking place in the school gymnasium from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

When it was launched 47 years ago, this food and gift-shopping extravaganza was simply called a salad luncheon. For several decades, it enjoyed a reputation as THE place to go for a pleasant lunch with a very friendly ambiance. Mainly, its popularity stemmed from the fact the day’s bill of fare were home-made dishes brought to the school by the members of the Parent-Teacher Group who were always eager to contribute something for the good of the school especially the students, not to mention sharing their favorite dining concoctions. Many original and long-held family recipes were shared and exchanged among the parents and teachers which added to the uniqueness of the holiday fund-raising project.

Decades later, arts and crafts booths were added to the luncheon which drew even more people who were looking to jump-start their Christmas shopping and eliminate any last-minute frantic searches for gifts to loved ones. Hence, salad luncheon soon received a moniker change – Holiday Luncheon and Crafts. And it turned out to be a boon not only for the eager shoppers but also for talented local artists and crafters who soon found a market for their hobbies, for the most part.

It wasn’t just the name that changed. Instead of parents and teachers bringing their tasty dining treats to the school fund-raiser, the food was provided by a local caterer. The change was for a number of reasons. It reflected the changing economic times with more and more wives and mothers joining the work force and being too busy to prepare a dish to share. Increasingly stringent health department rules played a part as well instituting the changes.

While it’s going to be all salads at this year’s luncheon, added to the menu will be meat and cheese trays as well plus ravioli, all for the same low price of $15 per person, $10 for seniors, explained Holdren who is chairing this year’s holiday fund-raiser.

She considers it “quite an honor” to be chairing the “longest-running fund-raiser that the school has had.” She also explained that the decision to go back to the luncheon’s salad roots was inspired by the many feedbacks they received last year from people who were reminiscing about “the way it used to be. So we’re trying to please them,” said Holdren who has two young children enrolled at the school.

“We have a lot of people that have attended this for years, so we’re trying to hold on to that old tradition,” she said.

There will be other attractions besides the food, drinks and the crafts. First are the raffle prizes – about 50 of them – which will be drawn toward the end of the luncheon. Tickets at a dollar apiece will be available for purchase that day. Pat Reece of New York Diamonds is once again donating a piece of jewelry for the first prize ticket. Ladybug Quilts of Manteca is donating a quilt for the second prize. For the winner of the third prize will be a tooth-whitening dental service donated by Manteca dentist Paula Andrews.

Starbucks is donating the coffee that will be served to guests; and Delicato Winery is donating the wine. Both drinks are included in the admission ticket.

The luncheon and crafts fair is strictly a project of the Parent-Teacher Group so all the proceeds go to the school for various projects including “increasing technology for the classrooms and computer lab,” Holdren said.

Tickets to the holiday salad luncheon may be purchased at the school office at Fremont Avenue, corner Sutter Street. Call the school office at 823-4513 for any additional details.