By Tori Oman
Bad stuff happens. It’s a hard pill to swallow and it certainly never feels fair. From natural disasters, to people treating each other poorly, to failing machinery- lots of bad stuff goes down, that we often can’t do much about. And while bad stuff is a given, I feel really fortunate to be a part of a company that raises awareness, provides employees with donation matching, and does its part to lend a hand to causes all over the globe (the Yum! Foundation recently donated $50,000 to the World Food Programme to assist with their relief efforts to help earthquake victims in Nepal.) While I always take advantage of the company match program and make donations to help, the World Food Programme, I often wish I could do more.
My guess is that many people feel that way: while the world seems to be crumbling, we feel like we can’t really make an impactful difference. That’s when I have to remember that even though it might be difficult to catch a plane half way across the world to see my donation in action, it’s not difficult to see if there is anyone in our own backyard who might need a helping hand.
Cut to springtime. This time of year means two things: 1, it’s spring cleaning season and we are all likely cleaning out our closets to prep for the scorching hot summer; 2, since Pizza Hut is the largest pizza company in the world, no matter what the season, we’ve got a lot of pizza. The math here is simple: 1 + 2 = 3 really easy ways to give back to the people in our own backyard. And who did Pizza Hut find in our own backyard? Two incredible organizations, The Family Place and Metro Relief.
The Family Place is an organization in the Dallas area on a mission to empower victims of family violence by providing them with safe housing, counseling and skills that lead them to greater independence. The Family Place delivers programs that address emotional and physical abuse, build community engagement among victims, and advocates for social change to stop the root causes of family violence. As a part of their program, the Family Place owns a resale shop offering gently used clothes and household items, with all proceeds benefiting the shelter.
Where do the clothes in the shop come from? See item 1: spring cleaning. The Pizza Hut Deliver Hope team challenged its associates to bring in gently used clothing from their and their families’ closets to donate to our friends at The Family Place. By the end of the donation week our donation box was overflowing with donations from our teams!
This leads me to item 2: we make a lot of pizza at our offices. We host a lot of learning for our teams on how to make our great pizzas each week. Did we mention that we have a Pizza Hut restaurant built right into our offices? Because we do! And while learning how to make pizza, we end up cooking a lot of it—more than one building of people who eat pizza all the time can possibly manage. So, at one of our latest trainings, we invited the Family Place shelter community to join us for a night out to eat at Pizza Hut on us. And let’s just say, they are some of our favorite customers we have ever had.
So that’s two ways we found to give back in our own backyard, and I promised you three. Metro Relief is a nonprofit organization that hosts a food pantry, serving an average of 120-150 families per week in Plano, Frisco, The Colony, and other surrounding cities. They do some super awesome work, from managing a community garden that supplements the pantry with fresh produce to offering socks and hygiene products in addition to a hot meal. The organization also has a soup bus that travels to some of the worst parts of Dallas and Fort Worth three times a week to serve food, socks, hygiene, and resources to the homeless and addicted.
Remember how I mentioned those pizza trainings at our offices? Well, often, there are a lot of leftover pizza ingredients that typically hit the compost bin (#greenteam). After connecting with Metro Relief, we thought we might have a better solution. I recruited a volunteer squad led by Operations extraordinaire, Chris Raleigh, to lead us through the first ever Deliver Hope Bake-Off. We raced the clock to cook as many pizzas as we had ingredients for in an hour for Metro Relief to serve at their pantry that night. The success was big—over 50 pizzas and 20 breadsticks were baked. The good feelings of knowing that the pantry recipients would have the surprise of delicious pizza that night was even bigger.