For so many people, Christmas Eve is the pinnacle of hope: the perfect time to reminisce on the year that was, and to look forward to the presents that might be under the tree the next morning. For others, it’s a harder day, filled with reminders of what they don’t have.

For these reasons, Domino’s teamed up with local organizations in St. Petersburg, Florida, to ensure people living in a designated “food desert” in the area had a hot meal on Christmas Eve. Food pantry Positive Impact Worldwide headed up the event with help from the city’s police department and the largest pizza chain in the world, reported USA Today.

The event was a smashing success in which the three organizations combined to give away over 600 free pizzas.

Related: Artist Creates Greeting Cards To Celebrate Famous Pizzerias

“It was a light-hearted atmosphere and they were just grateful,” said Karen Rae, the executive director of Positive Impact Worldwide. “They were grateful to see that we were doing this for them (and) that we cared enough to take our time on Christmas Eve (to do it).”

Rae reported that the event was Domino’s idea, and that she hopes the event becomes an annual tradition. The food pantry is well known in the St. Petersburg area for the work it does to give out free groceries for about 2,000 people per week.

The citizens living in the area do not have ready access to affordable foods with nutritional value, which has earned the area the “food desert” designation. According to USA Today, one in seven children in St. Petersburg goes to sleep hungry due to their economic status. Through partnerships with grocery-store chains like Publix and Sam’s Club, Positive Impact Worldwide is able to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and quality dairy products to those who can’t afford it.

“It just keeps growing because as the economy worsens, the food disparity becomes greater,” said Jay Brubaker, a retired St. Petersburg police officer and one of the founders of Positive Impact Worldwide. “Especially when they don’t have school in the summers they’re missing meals. So we’re trying to stop that and fill that gap.”

The event also attracted plenty of area volunteers, including resident Terry Jones, who told Fox 13 News that it was “an opportunity to spend time with babies here, so that’s what I’m doing, any chance I get.”

Pizza News