Everyday Heroes

Pizzas For First Responders Let Them Know They're Appreciated

Generous restaurant owners donated the pies. See the smiles as volunteers deliver them to police, firefighters and EMS.

While most of us are social distancing and staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, first responders are putting themselves on the front lines of the outbreak to keep the rest of us safe.

Gratitude for their sacrifice resulted in an impromptu partnership Wednesday between the Monte Cello's restaurants in Pittsburgh, and the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce, where they wanted to help the restaurants show appreciation for local police, firefighters and EMS workers.

Beth Machine, Heather Schwartzbauer and Mark Boris pick up pizzas from Monte Cello's in Wexford PA.Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce

Chamber employees Beth Machine and Heather Schwartzbauer and Chamber member Mark Boris grabbed a stack of fresh-baked pizzas from the Monte Cello's restaurant in Wexford and delivered to departments in northern Allegheny County from McCandless, to Franklin Park and Northern Regional.

Director of Marketing Annie Cairns and Chamber President Jim Boltz picked up pizzas from the Monte Cello's in Cranberry (just over the county line in Butler County) and surprised departments in the Cranberry area:

Monte Cello's co-founder Joe Wadlow and Sparkt CEO Marty Griffin dreamed up the idea to donate pizzas to local men and women in public service, from police and other first responders to nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers on the front lines.

In fact between now and April 1, anyone working in those types of jobs can go to one of the 5 area Monte Cellos restaurants, identify as such, and receive a free 10-cut cheese pizza.

Sparkt and Monte Cello's Restaurants Team Up For 1,000 Free Pizza Event (free for everyone!) Wednesday, April 1. Click here for more information.

"That's one of the keys to success in our business is making sure we're taking care of our community and to give back," Wadlow told Marty on his KDKA radio show.

Beth drops off pizzas at the Franklin Park police department, north of Pittsburgh.Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce

Cairns says in this case, her Chamber offered to cut out the middle man and deliver the pizzas to their local police, fire and EMS. "A couple of the places didn't even know we were delivering [the pizzas]," said Cairns. "They didn't even know what to say. People said 'thank you so much'."

Who doesn't love a fresh, hot pizza, especially if it's free!Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber doesn't want to stop there. Cairns says they want businesses in their Chamber area to step up and donate money to pay for more free lunches. She describes it as a win-win: struggling restaurants get business, and deserving people get a meal.

"The Chamber is trying to do what we can for our local businesses who are facing trouble. Restaurants are struggling right now because [their dining rooms are] closed." On the flip side, Cairns says their Chamber has a long list of non-profits and life sustaining organizations like hospitals and nursing homes where a free lunch would provide a real boost to the staff.

"There's so much fear and of course we all need to be safe, but we need to remember can all get through this together."

Monte Cello's donated 30+ pizzas for delivery to local first responders.Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce

How can you start something good?

If you'd like to join the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce in their effort to connect delicious, free meals with people who deserve them, email Annie Cairns at acairns@pghnorthchamber.com

Don't live in the area? You can still honor first responders and others in your community who are going the extra mile by buying and delivering simple food, like pizzas or sandwiches (practicing social distancing of course!). That way a restaurant in your neighborhood gets some extra business, and people in your community get a much deserved pat on the back.

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