Sometimes, a little bit of pizza can go a long way. That was the driver behind Reddit’s Random Acts of Pizza, an online community enabling users to send pies to people in need. Thanks to RAOP, those short on cash or in a time of crisis can receive comfort food and comfort when they need it most.
The anonymous nature of Reddit has led to a few controversies and abuses of the system along the way. But, on the whole, the movement has done a tremendous amount of good in this world while fostering pizza generosity all across the web.
Here are just some of the heartwarming moments that have reminded us of the power of pizza:
Pizza for victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, local residents housed runners who were left stranded by the tragedy. Realizing that there would be extra mouths to feed and little bandwidth to make dinner, the RAOP community sprang into action.
“It was amazing. Within 45 minutes, hundreds of people — people from all across the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Barbados — had started commenting and offering to send pizza,” Liz Kosearas, a Redditor from California told the Huffington Post. “It made sense to [expand the effort] so I decided to start coordinating delivery to shelters and hospitals, fire departments, police departments, anywhere people were grouping.”
To accommodate the large jump in scale, an RAOP member from Oklahoma City reached out to Cambridge shop Anytime Pizza. Although he had never even heard of Reddit, owner Perry Silveira was immediately on board to help execute the donated orders. His staff of 12 stayed up all night to make hundreds of pizzas, salads, and more to feed victims and volunteers.
A birthday party, saved.
In 2011, a Redditor was set to throw a birthday party for his four-year-old son. One problem – he was a little short on cash and couldn’t afford to feed his guests.
RAOP, of course, rallied. With generous donations from community members, and contributions from a local pizzeria, the birthday bash was catered by nine pizzas and enough grated parmesan to satisfy all of the cheese-loving attendees. The shop even took care of the tip – when Dad tried to give the delivery driver cash, he was told that it was already taken care of.
Feeding furloughed government workers
Random acts of pizza are not exclusive to Random Acts of Pizza, of course. In the midst of the 2019 U.S. government shutdown, D’Allesandro’s Pizza in Charleston, South Carolina saw an opportunity to help.
As government employees, those furloughed were required to continue showing up even as their paychecks were delayed. Thanks to D’Allesandro’s, nearby TSA agents at the Charleston Airport did not have to dig further into their pockets as they worked and waited for their compensation.
They weren’t the only shop to step up – many more around the country, including Tennessee’s Scratch Brick Oven Pizza, offered up a free pie to anyone who brought their government ID in tow.
“They’re very grateful, you know,” Scratch owner Jamie Wrestler told WJHL. “It’s the least we can do, really … If we can help some families maintain their sense of dignity and eat a meal out like they usually do, we’re happy to do it.”
Paying it forward
Whether short on time to eat in the wake of personal tragedy or just short on cash, we’ve all been there. That sentiment is not lost on the empathetic souls in the RAOP community, including this user who made a generous offer last year.
“I used to live out of my car when I was 18 and I would have killed to know this sub existed,” the user, from Australia, wrote. “I just got my largest pay ever ($1,900…it’s not groundbreaking, but it’s special to me) and, besides the bills and such, I feel in a giving mood this dinner time.”
With that, “eight slices of hot gold” were doled out to 5-10 grateful pizza lovers.
A complete meal
In these confusing times, it’s easy to get swept up in the pitfalls of online anonymity and occasional vitriol that finds its way to the web. Fortunately, there’s more good than evil out there, and plenty of kind folks willing to lend a helping hand and a hot slice.