WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (WBRE/WYOU) — A Pennsylvania business owner is trying to make a positive impact on his home community of Williamsport during the pandemic.
Mark Mangiardi, who owns Leo’s Pizzeria, is delivering free food to health care workers, long-term care facilities, and even schools.
Leo’s Pizzeria is known for their specialty pies, which are so highly regarded that oftentimes it’s difficult to get one before they hit quota.
While the small operation sells out of pizza almost every night, Mangiardi is still taking the time to serve up a boost of morale for those who need it most.
When he saw his community struggling, he decided to pitch in the best way he knew how.
“We’re not just sending pizzas. We’re trying to boost morale, and let them know we’re thinking of them,” Mangiardi told NewsNation affiliate WBRE/WYOU.
“It makes me happy knowing I can help,” he added. “I’m in the position now to where I can help people.”
What started with slices for school children forced out of the classroom last spring has blossomed into a full philanthropic effort.
Mangiardi estimates Leo’s has provided thousands of dollars in meals since March — an undertaking that’s forced him to devote entire business days to whipping up the free pies.
He said it’s paying it forward to the community that’s treated him so well.
“We have a set number of pizzas we can make because the shop is so small,” he said. “And, they sell us out every day, so every once in a while we like to just give back and help people.”
At UPMC, free food was offered to the entire hospital staff — from surgeons to the hospital’s janitors — for two full months.
Laboratory technician Jennie McDermott said the simple gesture provided a much-needed lift.
“It’s just a great feeling to understand that there are people out there that care about other people,” McDermott said.
At a moment when so many are hurting, the generosity is anything but pie in the sky.
“Businesses just pulling together when they’re taking a hard hit themselves, to help us out. It’s just — a loss for words. It’s just great for them to help us out,” said McDermott.
Mangiardi said he has no intentions on stopping the donations.
Next on the agenda, he said they’ll be going door-to-door at some of the low-income housing complexes here in town offering two free pies and Leo’s gift certificates.