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Special delivery: Big-rig pizza kitchen serves pizza to homeless
Who doesn't love pizza? Just about everyone enjoys it.
However, for families going through hardship, pizza might not be on the menu. That's why it was such a treat for local homeless families to enjoy pizza on Tuesday.
The Little Caesars Love Kitchen rolled into the Crossroads Mission to provide pizzas for about 500 people in need. The Green Tree donated green salad and sodas to complete the meals.
The big-rig pizza kitchen on wheels travels across the United States and Canada feeding the hungry, the homeless and disaster survivors.
The Paul-Sargent family expressed appreciation for the special pizza delivery. The young family is between homes and staying at the shelter while they find a new place to live.
“She was excited. ‘I want to eat pizza!'” Taylor Sargent, 20, said of her 2-year-old daughter, Jayden Paul, as the tot munched on pizza along with her dad, Joseph Paul, 21.
“It was fun. It brings everyone together. It's a time to talk and be open,” Sargent noted.
This socialization is what excited Barbara Rochester, special events and public relations director of Crossroads Mission.
“They sat together, they laughed together. That's why we're here today, for socialization among the families,” she said.
For Gordon Block, the shelter's treatment director, the special meal meant an opportunity for these families to experience something “normal” in an abnormal situation.
“Talk about treats. It's normal for families out there, but to a homeless family, that slice of pizza is something they'll remember,” Block said.
He hoped this act of kindness by the Little Caesars franchisee and staff and other volunteers would resonate with clients struggling with addiction.
“A slice of pizza or a hello or the church youth group serving today might have been the turning point for one individual,” Block said.
The atmosphere was festive, with music playing in the background. The shelter meant to set the mood with Italian music but ended up playing the strums of Spanish guitar, which they admitted were equally festive.
The local Little Caesars franchise owner and company regional office donated all the food and labor costs.
“The Love Kitchen was created to provide quality meals for people who need them,” local franchisee Robert Ochylski said. “As a member of the area business community, it's important for us to support people when they need it and help make the community stronger. We're excited to support this program with food and staff to provide a quality meal for people who otherwise may not get one.”
Established by Little Caesars in 1985, the Love Kitchen is part of the company's tradition of giving back to local communities, according to Gray Reynolds, director of brand communications and corporation relations.
The Love Kitchen has fed more than two million people in 48 states and four Canadian provinces. It has also responded to disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and the sites of terrorist acts.
“We know that it's important to reach out to the communities where we do business and help make a difference,” said David Scrivano, Little Caesars president and CEO. “As a family company, we are proud to work together with our local franchisees and company-owned stores to coordinate the vehicle, staff and food and to be there for the people in Yuma who need assistance.”
The Love Kitchen visit also allowed local residents to volunteer. The Foothills Baptist Church Youth Group served pizza and cleaned up tables, the pantry and kitchen. In the big rig, Little Caesars employees cooked the pizza.
“It's a treat, especially when you have kids helping out. It's great to see the smiles on their faces,” said Jeff O'Meara, Love Kitchen director and big-rig driver.
The appreciation shown by the families and individuals touched Reynolds. “People who don't have two dimes to rub together are very thankful and grateful and come up and shake our hands and give us hugs. It's very nice. We're happy to be here.”
“We're grateful to Little Caesars for choosing us,” Rochester added.