Peace, Goodwill and Pizza


As I write this column, Christmas is nearly two months away, and I’m still basking in sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Given my druthers, I’d skip winter altogether and move straight from fall into early spring, but my fervent prayers to that effect have gone unanswered for years. God seems committed to this whole four-seasons-a-year business. I guess He knows best.

As you read this column, however, Yuletide will be in full swing. We at PMQ never cease to be impressed by the generosity of the pizza industry, so most of you probably don’t need a reminder that some in your communities could use a helping hand this Christmas. Many pizzeria owners now open their doors every Christmas Day to the homeless and hungry and to needy children whom Santa would otherwise pass by. Charlie Peterka, owner of Charlie’s Pizza in Little Falls, Minnesota, has thrown a Christmas party for these folks every year since 2001. Last year, Charlie’s gave away 10 new bikes, 100 plush animals and other toys to children and served free pizza, soup, milk and cookies. Peterka seeks to commemorate the life of his daughter, Donna, who died of suicide at 19. He told Minnesota Public Radio that Donna used to donate her waitress tips to the Humane Society or a local senior center. “In her honor,” he said, “we’re opening our doors, and whoever is hungry or lonely or sad—or happy or breathing—come on in. Let’s have a nice day.”

Crispino’s Pizza in Morehead City, North Carolina, gives away pizza and soup to the hungry on Christmas Day and even offers delivery. Bada Bing Pizzeria in Dayton, Ohio, will throw its second annual community party this Christmas, and co-owner Jason Hague has plans to launch a nonprofit pizzeria with free slices for everyone!

Sometimes we look around and see, at least on the surface, an ugly, scary, mixed-up world. But take a moment to talk—and listen—to folks as individuals, and you’ll see it differently. Most want to do the right thing. Most people want to help other people. That’s certainly true of the pizza industry. “Our cash registers will be closed and our hearts wide open,” Hague posted on Facebook last Christmas. Happy holidays to you, Jason, and to all the pizza people who spread peace and goodwill in our communities.

Rick Hynum
PMQ Pizza Magazine