Papa John’s Pizza in Riverside, Ohio, hosted a parking lot celebration to raise donations and community awareness for Georgia-based charity HeroBox.org on October 17th, 2009. HeroBox founder Ryan Housley started the charity in May, 2008, to provide stateside families a convenient means to “adopt” a deployed soldier. Adopted soldiers receive care packages called HeroBoxes from their contributing sponsors in the U.S.
“There’s that received response from the States that [soldiers] know that they are supported. If they are on a mission … and know they are supported from the stateside, then that is one less thing they have to worry about,” says Army Major John Burrescia.
Papa John’s General Manager Jason Hyman and HeroBox Coordinator Kischel Burrescia invited families to join them for a day of fun and support for the troops at the Papa John’s restaurant at 36 Woodman Avenue in Dayton. The Riverside Papa John’s, adjacent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, provided a venue to celebrate not only armed service members, but civilian service personnel as well.
Joining in on the day were Riverside Mayor John Doan, Fairborn Mayor Gary Woodward and Chief Master Sergeant John L. Hoffman Jr., the Command Chief of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson. Some of the attractions at the event included an EMS vehicle and a fire truck displayed by the Riverside Fire Department and free child fingerprint ID’s provided by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department. Papa John’s mascot Mr. Slice, McGruff the Crime Dog and the Cincinnati Reds’ mascot Mr. Redlegs were all on hand to entertain the crowd.
During the event Papa John’s served as a drop-off location for contributions for the Herobox care packages. Throughout the day donations were collected and Papa John’s donated a portion of their pizza sales that raised more than $1500 for HeroBox.org. In recognition of their outstanding community service, Papa John’s and HeroBox received proclamations from Governor Ted Strickland, Mayor Doan and Mayor Woodward.
“It was an emotional day. At Papa Johns we have a Saying, (PAPA) People Are Priority Always and we live up to that everyday.” said Papa John’s Manager Jason Hyman. Onlookers laughed as Mayors Doan and Woodward put on aprons to try their hands at tossing pizza dough in the air, while others cried as veterans shared their stories and gratitude for bringing awareness to a great cause.