Paying it forward with pizza


Michaela Meade

Happy Camper Pizza in Braybrook is running a “pizza-it-forward” initiative, donating pizzas to Duke Street Community House to make a positive impact on their community.

Co-owner Sonia Lear said the COVID-19 pandemic had hit the business hard, but a spark of inspiration from friends began the initiative of giving back.

“Our West Footscray friends, Kirsten Mackenzie and Randall Wee, are the ones who inspired our ‘pizza-it-forward’ initiative,” she said.

“When we were at our lowest, they donated some money to [the business] and asked for it to be used to make pizzas for people in need.”

Ms Lear said they chose to donate to Duke Street Community House because of its charitable work during Melbourne’s lockdowns over last and this year.

“Prior to COVID, [Duke Street] offered early childhood and educational programs to the community and occasional care, but found there was so much need in the community when COVID hit, it started making hampers using donated food and volunteer staff,” she said.

“Many of their clients have lost jobs during COVID, are students or refugees and rely on regular food hampers from Duke Street to get by.

“Treats are the first to go when you’re under financial hardship. But it’s not just the physical pizzas that makes the initiative special, it’s the sharing of good will and positive vibes.”

Ms Lear said even when restrictions ease, the business will continue to provide the donations.

“There was so much excitement about our pizzas from Duke Street that we decided we’d just keep donating as a business, no matter what, as well as add a ‘pizza-it-forward’ option to our takeaway menu and see if we could get some support locally,” she said.

“But in all honesty, it’s been hard to get word out and we’ve been a bit hesitant to push it too hard in case it comes across as us blowing our own trumpet.

“We leave it to our customers to decide if this is something they’d like to support.

“We donate a batch from our own business every fortnight regardless of how many donations we get, and weekly if we have enough pizzas from our customers.”