Harry Funk/The Almanac

Steve and Erica Diethorn own Ma and Pop’s Country Kitchen in Bethel Park.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be an event worthy of a perfect Norman Rockwell portrait, with happy families consuming homemade smorgasbords.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets that particular picture.

To help brighten the fourth Thursday of November for people who otherwise would have trouble enjoying the holiday, Erica and Steve Diethorn are offering dinner with all the trimmings.

For free.

Starting in 2018 – the year they opened their Bethel Park restaurant, Ma & Pop’s Country Kitchen – the Diethorns have cooked up Thanksgiving feasts, with the help of a corps of volunteers and sponsors, with no strings attached.

“Really, the intention is for people who are going to be alone and for people who really can’t afford to provide a good meal for their family,” Erica said.

She and Steve were able to continue the tradition last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, serving 420 meals through takeout or delivery.

To help gauge how much food to prepare this Thanksgiving, they’re fielding reservations, which must be made before Nov. 19 by calling 412-595-8451.

“Press 2 after the answering machine message to request a reservation,” Erica said. “Leave your name and phone number, and we will call you back. You will receive confirmation of your reservation by mail.”

The Diethorns will be serving dinner in the restaurant, 2480 South Park Road, in hourly intervals starting at 11 a.m. Nov. 25, with the last seating at 6 p.m. Two deliveries are scheduled, starting at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

For those who stay for their meals, live music will be provided during the day.

“We have a lot of community members come in who are single, who don’t have family, widows, and it’s just nice to be able to offer something for them,” Erica said.

“Or they don’t even flat-out have anywhere to go,” Steve added. “Their family might be out of town. They might not be invited. They’re not churchgoers.”

The Diethorns’ children live out of town, and instead of trying to travel one direction and then the other in rapid succession, they choose to remain in Bethel Park to make Thanksgiving a special day for as many people as possible.

And they receive plenty of help, from sponsors including Breadworks, Gordon Foods, Nappie’s Food Service and the Rotary Club of Bethel Park to folks who donate desserts and other goodies, plus their time.

Erica asks that anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation, or who has questions about Thanksgiving dinner, call her at 412-670-1212.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!