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Since 1979 • November 2020 • Circulation 5000

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Hockey Fans Sponsor Pizzas for the Homeless

Area restaurant prepares weekly pizza lunches for clients of Boyle Street Community Services.

Kornrawit Chaiarun, one of the servers at Panini’s, volunteers by helping to label and deliver pizzas to Boyle Street Community Services. Supplied

Panini’s Italian Cucina, a popular Boyle Street pizza and pasta restaurant, is providing pizzas for weekly pizza lunches for the homeless at Boyle Street Community Services, thanks to generous donations from all over North America and beyond.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team began treating clients of Boyle Street Community Services to a weekly pizza lunch during the team’s time in Edmonton’s playoff bubble. Players saw Boyle Street Community Services from their window, and ordered food from Panini’s to be delivered there.

After the team was eliminated in the playoffs, Scott Jividen, a Golden Knights fan from Nevada, contacted Tony Caruso, owner of Panini’s, to keep the pizza program going. “I saw a couple of news stories about the team donating pizzas over the course of the playoffs, and I wanted to find a way to keep it going. I made a casual mention about continuing it for another week on the Golden Knights forum on Reddit. Other fans of the team were enthusiastic about the idea, so I decided to reach out to Panini’s and see if they were interested,” Jividen explains.

Caruso designed an online platform to handle donation orders from anywhere. The website was used by people around the world during the “Pizzas for Boyle Street” campaign in September. “Initially, the goal was to supply pizzas for one week,” says Jividen. “It was meant as a way fans could show appreciation for the Knights, and continue their charitable efforts.”

However, the number of donations far exceeded anyone’s expectations. After the campaign ended, 597 pizzas were ordered – enough for 24 pizzas every week for six months. In total, 402 orders came from the United States (308 of them from Nevada), 191 from Canada (158 from Alberta), and four orders from outside Canada and the U.S.

“We were expecting 30 or so donations and the numbers were 20 times that,” says Tony. “We felt a great sense of community that stretched past our borders!”

Caruso, along with his brother and business partner Rob, have been discussing creating a permanent website for the program, with the intention of continuing to share their pizzas with those in need – after they catch up on the 597 pizzas in a few months.

Panini’s is located at 8544 Jasper Avenue.

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