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ST. ANTHONYS HOLIDAY LUNCHEON
Babies, people, craft booths & fine food
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Jonah Horn, six months, attended the annual holiday luncheon and crafts fair at St. Anthony of Padua School Wednesday with his great-grandfather Ralph Donges and other members of the family. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

There was no shortage of shoppers, unique handcrafted gift items, baked goods, and food at the 45th annual holiday luncheon fund-raiser of St. Anthony’s School Wednesday.

And many of the guests were entire families that included grandparents and even great-grandparents, with several of them bringing along the youngest members of their brood – babies as young as seven weeks.

“This is her first holiday luncheon, so we’re starting a tradition,” smiled Angela Salazar of her seven-month-old baby, Esme, sitting calmly in a stroller parked next to the dining table while proud grandmother, Mary Del Pino, kept her entertained.

Some of the parents said the babies will be the third- and even fourth-generation family members to attend St. Anthony’s School. The parochial school opened its doors in 1951.

Among the youngest guests at the holiday luncheon was cuddly six-month-old Addie Souza who sported a delicate-pink ribbon in her dark hair. Alyce Machado Luis carried her grandniece in her arms as she browsed through the craft booths. The baby is the granddaughter of her brother, Frank. The siblings, whose parents were staunch supporters of the school since its inception, were among the early students of St. Anthony’s School.

One young guest, six-month-old Jonah Horn, attended the luncheon with several members of his large family which included his mother Lindsey Horn, his aunt Jessica, his grandmother JoAnn Donges, and great-grandparents Mary and Ralph Donges.

“They have been part of St. Anthony’s since they moved to Manteca from Hayward four years ago. They come to the luncheon every year,” JoAnn Donges said of her in-laws who have been married 62 years.

Cheryl Behler, explaining why she brought her seven-week-old daughter, Amelia, to the luncheon, simply said, “This is tradition.”

Linda Snyder, who brought along granddaughter Mackenzie Feri, 14 months, echoed the sentiment.

“I come here every year. I used to come with my mom before she died,” said Snyder who rated the luncheon food, especially the homemade ravioli prepared every year by Tony Queirolo and son Mario, as “excellent.”

With Snyder were Mackenzie’s cousin, Haylee Snyder, 17 months, who pushed her pink stroller like a shopping cart along the vending booths to the amusement of her mother, Crystal Woods.

New this year at the school’s biggest annual fund-raiser were two student booths. The fourth-grade booth, which sold Christmas tree ornaments handmade by the students, was to raise money for Science Camp. The bake sale booth was to help raise money for one of the school’s classrooms.