Our Past LOVEPIZZA Gives Initiatives
we all believe in you
supporting Blake Loates & the Canadian Mental Health Association
May 2-8 2016
The kick off to our LOVEPIZZA Gives program was with a very regular customer of ours, Blake Loates. She is a professional photographer in Edmonton, a mental health advocate and a big pizza fan. Blake was working on a project called We All Believe in You to bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. Blake held an evening at our beautiful Art Gallery of Alberta with 50 stories and 50 gorgeous portraits of Edmontonians who were willing to share their stories, battles and messages of hope. That evening made you want to think, cry and most of all LISTEN. You know that feeling when you're standing in a room filled with inspiring people and you get a couple rounds of goosebumps? That was us when we were listening to Blake share her story.
When I first met Blake Loates a few weeks prior to her big event, she gave me a hug. A big one. She meant it. That was when Gavin and I decided to kick off our LOVEPIZZA Gives program with her We All Believe in You initiative. Over the past year or so I’ve come to know a lot more about Blake and what she stands for. We’ve laughed together, cried together and we've made her a few pizzas too. When she said she was looking for volunteers a few weeks ago for a Canadian Mental Health Association project for Suicide Prevention Week, it was something that both Gavin and myself knew we needed to be a part of. When Blake asked me to write a note of hope for my photo – I wrote this
And now I’ll tell you why.
In November 2009 my family was forever changed. We very quickly lost a piece of our puzzle. You never think it can happen to “your family” – but it did. I think about my uncle every day. He had the warmest smile and a raspy warmth in his voice that I now hear in his two boys, my cousins. We miss him every day. Did this change the way I look at mental health and suicide – yes.
These are the words I wish I could have said to him. These are the words I have said or typed to Blake so many times. These are the words I can only hope will help someone today or next week or next year. You are a gift and these words are for you.
I am so proud of Blake. She has given this cause a voice, a face and her heart.
This first LOVEPIZZA Gives week was a particularly important one. It made us want to do more, to share more and get people to think about the world that surrounds them. Sharing our stories and what makes our hearts beat is the first step to that.
Our first week of LOVEPIZZA Gives was really bittersweet. Our neighbours to the north in Fort McMurray, Alberta were experiencing a devastating forest fire that destroyed much of their city. We wanted to do what we could to help so we opened our little restaurant and our hearts to the fine folks of that hardworking city. Over the span of about a week we have provided just over $1000 of complimentary meals to individuals and families who have been displaced by the fires. We were really touched by each one of their stories and how appreciative they were to have a few moments of normalcy eating our pizza in a calm environment.
Our debut week of LOVEPIZZA Gives was to focus on We All Believe in You, a very special movement to bring awareness to mental health issues. $1 from every pizza we served during that week was donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association. This is an organization that has always been an important one. With the events that happened in our province we believe that the CMHA is even more critical. Mental illness takes on MANY forms - from depression to anxiety disorders to grieving and post-traumatic stress disorder. During this very stressful time for many Albertans we really believe that mental health is a crucial piece of this puzzle. We are happy to report that close to 1,800 pizzas were served out of our little restaurant during that week in May. $1,800 will be donated from LOVEPIZZA to (as the CMHA puts it) "facilitate access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness."
And we think that's pretty important.
May 29 - June 5 2016
What can we say about Patrycia. She is EVERYONE's cheerleader. She is the first to jump to volunteer, to show up to your events and be your loudest cheerleader. She has the warmest smile, the best hugs and the biggest heart - and she has MS. AND she loves our Holy Shiitake! Prior to the MS Bike tour in 2016 we hosted a LOVEPIZZA Gives week to raise money for her team, since then we've also chowed down on all of the Teen Burgers we could possibly eat when they do the MS Society fundraiser with A&W.
Diagnosed with MS in 2012, Patrycia is the tireless spokesperson and voice for the MS Society and is a constant resource and pillar of support for those who have been suffering from MS for years or those who have been recently diagnosed. The pizza count for this LOVEPIZZA Gives week was 1979! So we rounded up and donated $2,000 to Patrycia's team and the MS Society.
Our customers support us and we support our customers!
in support of Kate & Nicole and the Canandian Alopecia Areata Foundation
September 12-18 2016
Since opening LOVEPIZZA in early 2016, we've had the absolute pleasure of getting to know YOU - our customers! Many of you are also small business owners and we've had a lot of stories to swap.... I was asked to stop by Sweet Jolie, a local Edmonton boutique to take some photos for their monthly feature This is a local company made up of amazing and inspiring ladies. They love Edmonton and are very active in their community with fundraising events and helping out with different causes in any way they can. We partnered up with Sweet Jolie's owner Nicole in September 2016 for a LOVEPIZZA Gives week to bring awareness to a something very close to her heart - her beautiful daughter Kate who has Alopecia.. We truly believe our city is only as strong as the people in it - and from what I've seen from our wonderful customers... Edmonton is pretty darn strong
One Saturday afternoon I got to do one of my favourite things. I had the pleasure of sitting down with a giggly, smiling 5 year old sweetheart who let me have a bite of her Peach Pie. Kate is energetic, chatty and so sweet. She is a six year old. She also has Alopecia. An auto-immune disease that for unknown reasons attacks the hair root and causes hair loss. She has no hair on her head, no eyebrows and is starting to lose her eyelashes. Currently there is no cure and many of the treatments are very painful.
After having the pleasure of getting to know her momma, Nicoleand what an amazing role model she is for Kate - I just know this little girl is going to grab life by the horns and become such an amazing spokeslady for Alopecia. During this week in September our team made 1492 pizzas last week so we will proudly be sending a cheque CANAAF for $1500 dollars to go to research and awareness campaigns for Alopecia. Something to take away from this LOVEPIZZA Gives week... "we are all different" and that is the beauty in humanity.
h.e.r. Pregnancy program
Boyle Street Community Services
PLUS diaper drive!
Back in August 2016 we dropped off some dessert pizzas (the Peach Pie) to the Edmonton Community Foundation where an event was being held by the ladies of Apricity to raise awareness and funds for the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program but also to CELEBRATE it. We learned more about the program here and knew it was one that we wanted to support through LOVEPIZZA Gives . That event was another reminder of how amazing Edmonton is and how thankful WE are to own a business in this community. I was introduced the the H.E.R Pregnancy Program by Sarah Chan, known around these parts as the "first lady of Edmonton" - the passion this lady has for the city and those in need are contagious. She is a gift to this city and is always getting involved in any way she can to make this place we all call home even better.
This LOVEPIZZA Gives week is one that hit my heart pretty hard.
When I found out I was pregnant with our son, my doctor started asking all of the routine questions. The one that will always stick with me was “do you have support”? Without even thinking for a second I said “Yes, amazing support” which I am so grateful for. And that really made me think about all of the women out there who have no one to guide, support or love them during pregnancy and post-partum.
When the H.E.R. program was really first layed out to me it came from a fellow mom – Sarah.. We swapped stories, had some good laughs – and then got down to what the H.E.R. pregnancy program was really about. Both of us were in tears within a minute or two. Sarah told me that many of these women have never seen a doctor until they actually went into labour, have no home and have no means to diaper or clothe their new baby. Many of these women are in a cycle living on the streets that they just can’t get out of. So they find themselves back on the streets right after the birth and in the same position again and again.
No woman should have to go through this once. Let alone multiple times.
Sarah also shared with me success stories from the program that perhaps made me cry even more. For example, one young woman who was in an abusive relationship and using meth. When she found out she was pregnant, she quit everything. She is now an employee of H.E.R. helping others get healthy for themselves and for their babies.
Sarah said to me “it’s not a sexy charity” – and it’s not. But it’s so important and it needs to be shared.
We made 1637 pizzas during that week so we donated $1640 to the H.E.R. Pregnancy Program. We also trekked through the mud in front of Boyle Street to drop off all of the diaper donations from the week - 35 boxes! Thanks to Amor from Apricity for helping us out and introducing us to the amazing women involved in the HER Program. Seeing that wall of beautiful moms and babies that the HER Pregnancy Program has helped really hit home.
And as a side note: the happiness and appreciation within Boyle Street is infectious. Those receiving services there are just happy to be breathing, eating and socializing. Makes you check your own issues at the door and REALLY appreciate the little things.
Dropping off all of the diapers at Boyle Street Services.
our first birthday
January 25 2017
supporting Zebra Child Protection Centre
For our first birthday we decided to do a BOGO ... all day. What that a bit of a silly idea in hindsight... umm yep. We were literally lined up out the door, across the front of our shop and around the corner... for 10 hours straight. IN JANUARY IN EDMONTON.It was the biggest single day that we have had a LOVEPIZZA. As a team we made 822 pizza -IN ONE DAY.
Anyways, we decided to do a BOGO and donate $1 from each pizza we sold to Zebra Child Protection Centre AND collect (and match cash donations). Why did we choose Zebra to partner with on this big day?
Do do you have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild or friend between the ages of 0-17 years old? Think about those children. Imagine them being in an unthinkable situation of being mentally, physically or sexually abused. It makes me sick to my stomach. In 2016 alone the Zebra Centre supported 1,515 kids - that's an average of 126 per month. In a perfect world Zebra wouldn't have to exist, but sadly that's not our reality. The work that Zebra does is SO important.
At the end of the day we donated $1470 to Zebra,and since then we have jumped at the chance to support this amazing organization in anyway we can including serving pizza before the Ladies on the Green golf tournament - a day that raised over $61,000! Amazing!!
June 5 2017
food hole sponsor supporting Win House
It was a long day, but a great day. WIN House invited us out for their annual golf tournament to serve some pizzas. We were so happy we could be a small part of this big annual fundraising event for this amazing organization. We met so many fabulous women who are so passionate about this cause and have been supporting WIN for decades. These shelters are a safe place for women and children fleeing domestic abuse, they are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can't imagine the resources that are needed to operate them.
June 9-18 2017
diaper drive (in both downtown and St Albert shops)
For each LOVEPIZZA Gives initiative that we do, we make sure we spend some time in and around the organization to really understand what they really do. I had the honour of touring Terra Centre, specifically their Braemar School facility in the Ottwell community. To say I (and my own mama, who I had with me) were blown away is an understatement. With 150 students (45 of which graduated with a high school diploma that Friday - yay!), all young parents or soon to be parents completing their high school educations AND their children (age 3 weeks to 3 years) being cared for and taught under the watchful eye of early childhood teachers - all under one roof. WOW.
This facility represents only a fraction of what the Terra Centre does for young parents in our community, but it's such a special place. I read and listened to stories, met 2 year olds that remind me so much of my own son and I honestly fell so in love with this place. The sense of family, love and COMMUNITY is so strong and so important to these young families.
That statement above on the wall at Terra is so true - they DO differ, but every child deserves a childhood. This is WHY Gavin and I see so much value in helping these "not-so-well-known" organizations through our LOVEPIZZA Gives program, the work they do is so important to our community.
And that is also why we get our son involved in our business and our LOVEPIZZA Gives program in any way that we can. He is our future and we want him to be as proud of this business as we are. We want his childhood to be filled with being a positive change in the world and a bright light in someone's day.
Our Terra Centre diaper drive was such a success - a total of 115 boxes were collected between our two stores. An average box of diapers cost between $35 to $40 per box - so that is over $4,000 in diapers. We gave away 115 pizzas as thank yous over the span of 10 days to our amazing contributors! So THANK YOU again to our customers and our downtown Edmonton & St Albert community!
SAIF (stop abuse in families)
the LOVESGIVING pizza
Sept 22 - Oct 7 2017
Since opening our St Albert store in April 2017 we have been learning more and more about the St Albert community and the amazing organizations that operate just a couple of minutes from our pizza shop.
I reached out to a regular customer of ours who lives in St Albert and works downtown, she and her family are very involved in the community and have been a great resource for me. She put me in touch with SAIF (Stop Abuse in Families) located right in St Albert. This is an organization that has been helping those experiencing domestic abuse since 1989 in the capital region.
We came up with a fully loaded comfort food pizza to be part of this LOVEPIZZA Gives Initiative - The Lovesgiving pizza. Topped with mashed potatoes, stuffing, pulled turkey, gravy, cranberry chutney and brie cheese drizzle - all made in house. We donated $1 from each Lovesgiving pizza we sold directly to programs at SAIF including individual counselling, group support programs, youth counselling and educational programming in our schools.
We believe every man, woman and child should have a safe place to call home. But the reality is this isn’t the case for many. Our hope is we can make a difference in the life of at least one person or family with this fundraiser. This topic is a difficult one to think about and talk about, but it's SO important because it's happening all around us, quietly. It is a topic that has always been discussed in my family because of the work that my uncle and my aunt have spent their lives doing.
My uncle, Ron Sluser, was one of the original founding men of the White Ribbon Campaign alongside Michael Kaufman and the late Jack Layton in the early 90s, They started what is now an international movementthat encourages men and boys to pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. It is a movement that promotes gender equality, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. .He and his partner, my aunt Jan, have spent their lives working for not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions such as the YWCA and George Brown College. It is work that I have so much respect for and I am still in awe weight this profession carries on those in it (so much so that I did a project on my aunt Jan in junior high on the topic of “write about someone you admire”, true story, it’s probably in a box in my parent’s basement).
I was that little girl who asked them questions about what they did for work and why we were going to a certain “parade” or why I was wearing a t-shirt with a white ribbon on it. And they explained it, all of it. They have inspired me to help those who need someone to listen, who need a voice and who need a fresh start. Never underestimate YOUR INFLUENCE, especially if you are in a position of influence with a young mind and heart. You never who is watching you, who is listening and who you might inspire.
We ended up making 587 LOVESGIVING pizzas during the 16 days that we ran this campaign! We like to round up around here (sometimes) so we donated $1000 to the programs of SAIF. That money will go directly to individual or group support sessions to those experiencing domestic abuse.