On one hand, this is a story about the awesome fundraising efforts of Pizza Hut franchise CFL Pizza, the owner and operator of 100 Central Florida Pizza Hut restaurants, on behalf of the Children’s Home Society of Florida. The restaurants raised a record-setting $150,000, exceeding their $100,000 goal, between March 16 and May 25. On the other hand, this story wouldn’t be possible without all of the amazing team members and Restaurant General Managers (RGMs) who made this remarkable donation possible: in particular, RGM Kurt Sniffin, Assistant Manager Wendy Cole, and team member Jessica Rice.
Kurt was central to making this year’s record amount a reality, an amount that brought the total funds raised by Pizza Hut for the Children’s Home Society of Florida to more than $310,000 over the past five years. “Kurt was absolutely instrumental in rallying his team members along with providing his support on behalf of this important cause. His great spirit, leadership, and passion for the kids of CHS really came through in a big way—as you can see in the final fundraising numbers” said Ruth Caraballo of CFL Pizza.
Kurt felt a personal connection to CHS through his work with Harvest Program, an initiative that donates surplus food to food banks and other community organizations that support those in need. This year, he volunteered to be the chief fundraising ambassador, rallying the seven other restaurants in his area to get excited about Children’s Home Society of Florida. “I told them if they raised $13,500 I would dye my hair pink and visit all the stores. That got people motivated—one girl personally raised $700 on her own. I feel very strongly about CHS—it’s a cause that’s personal to me, and so setting bold goals and meeting them was very motivating.” With his leadership—and creativity—Kurt’s area raised more than $13,000.
Like Kurt, Wendy also has a soft spot in her heart for the work of CHS. Her stepdaughter benefitted from the program growing up, and the center is right down the road from where her restaurant is today. Wendy credits her team’s fundraising success to one key metric: “We were LOUD. Sometimes it takes a minute for people to get involved, so we made sure we were over-the-top excited for each donation that came in. I made up a song and was singing to the whole restaurant for every single dollar that came in. With a little friendly competition within the restaurant, we made fundraising was both fun and very rewarding.” The fact that the center was right down the road made the campaign very personal for her team members, Wendy adds.
Speaking of singing: Jessica Rice, a team member in Kurt’s restaurant, brought her own flavor to the fundraising challenge, playing the saxophone in front of the restaurant with the proceeds going to benefit CHS. Jessica is an accomplished musician in her own right (Kurt claims she undersells her talent) and currently attending university to become a music teacher. Her talent was apparent at a young age when her parents forcibly switched her from karate class to piano class. “I hated it, but I had a knack for the piano,” Jessica says. She’s been playing a variety of instruments ever since, and discovered a deep passion for the universality of music. “It’s something that everyone around the world can understand and feel. Music for me is really about helping people—it’s a medium through which I can bring people happiness.”
Jessica started working at Pizza Hut her senior year of high school with plans on it being a temporary job to support herself through college. She says her team members would take the time to come and listen to her concerts while she was trying out for scholarships, and she would play recordings of her music at the end of a long shift to lift the team’s spirit. Jessica says her time at Pizza Hut has been more rewarding than she could have imagined, and now she’s planning to be with the brand for as long as she can. “I ended up learning people skills, team work skills—things you can’t learn in a classroom. Professors ask me where I learned to talk to people and work in groups so well, and I always tell them Pizza Hut. Being a part of this company has helped me grow and develop as a teacher. I love it here.”
For his part, Kurt will be there to support her every step of the way. It’s not just leading a team of fantastic individuals that motivates Kurt to bring his best to work every day. It’s also about the customers, the community—and the opportunities. “CFL strong believes in their people and in developing their employees. I’m constantly learning new things.” Not only that, but there’s an opportunity to give back to the community—with CHS, the Harvest Program, and more. Kurt adds, “It means a lot to me to work with customers and with the community.”
And community is also central to Wendy’s reason for being a fan of Pizza Hut. Despite the fact that fundraising for CHS ended in May, recently Wendy and her team volunteered to clean up around the CHS center—raking leaves and planting flowers, cleaning up picnic tables, and more. Even though “there were about 800 spiders,” she says that it was very rewarding to be able to give back to the center and to actually see the impact of the donation made by CFL Pizza Hut. “Pizza Hut is very family-oriented,” she adds, and it’s clear that with that sentiment she’s thinking beyond the restaurant to include the local communities of central Florida. Thanks to the CFL franchise for all you do to Deliver Hope!