Friday, July 20, 2018
News Roundup

'Operation Pizza Delivery' feeds linemen in Westchase/Oldsmar, and then some

WESTCHASE — It began with a small gesture, then exploded into a 1,400-pizza phenomenon.

Christy Nash and her friend Laura Frasor wanted to help the fleet of out-of-town power linemen, assembled at Tampa Bay Downs, who were helping with Hurricane Irma repairs. Nash and Frasor brought a few shopping carts full of supplies, then off-handedly mentioned they'd be back with some dinnertime pizza for everyone.

One of the linemen chuckled.

"That's very nice, but you know when everybody gets back, we'll have about 1,000 guys here,'' he said.

"Well, how many do you need?'' Nash said.

"Probably about 500 to 700 pizzas,'' he replied, straight-faced.

Nash and Frasor, who own their own social media-driven businesses, nodded in agreement. "OK, we'll do that,'' they said.

"You could tell by the look in his eyes that he was thinking, 'All right, we'll never see you girls again,' '' Frasor said. "Like, 'Nice try, but you can't do that. How the heck are you going to pull that off?' ''

How?

With five creative, determined friends working toward a goal.

With the power of social media.

And with the cooperation of some already overtaxed Domino's Pizza stores.

Frasor explained the volume-pizza need to a manager at Domino's Odessa location, then it was passed up the corporate chain. An ordering link was established that explained how the pizzas would help a cause — along with setting a discount price of $6.25 (down from $10.99) — and Facebook did the rest.

The brains of a squad that called itself "Operation Pizza Delivery'' — Nash of Palm Harbor, Frasor of Odessa, Maureen Mele of Westwood Lakes, Janine Battaglia of the Eagles and Jackie Keenan of Highland Park — shared the link on their Facebook pages, mixing in social media destinations for the neighborhoods and PTAs for their children's schools.

Within three hours, 1,400 pizzas were ordered. People responded from dozens of different states and Canada.

"We literally had more pizzas than we could reasonably provide and more than they would need,'' said Graham Ballard, vice president of operations for Domino's in the Tampa Bay area. "Sometimes, we all get caught up in our day-to-day grind. This kind of effort was just heartwarming and humbling. It almost brought a tear to your eye.''

Operation Pizza Delivery needed a quick revision.

There were plenty of pizzas for the linemen at Tampa Bay Downs.

Extras were delivered to assisted living facilities, fire stations, police stations and homeless shelters.

With the Domino's locations already short-staffed and working at peak capacity, the pizzas had to be produced in waves over about a 10-day period.

"It was an amazing problem to have,'' Ballard said. "The pizzas ultimately went to people who really needed them, the needy, the first responders, the people who were working overtime to get everybody back on their feet. It was an unbelievable effort.''

And one that still leaves the Operation Pizza Delivery ladies in a bit of awe.

"We were without power at our home for a few days, but it sustained no physical damage and we had a generator, so we were fine,'' Frasor said. "We probably had better living conditions than some of these men and women who came to help us, some of whom came here straight from (Hurricane) Harvey in Texas.

"I go home one night and these guys are working on the streets of my community. We brought them four pizzas and they looked at us like, 'We don't want to offend, but maybe you could give these to someone who needs them more.' They were so selfless. And they're working with wires hanging off trees. It's the least we could do to help them. They are heroes.''

Nash said lessons were everywhere, particularly for the group's children, who learned about the value of giving back.

"We underestimated the power of social media and we underestimated the generosity of this community,'' Nash said. "Some of my friends didn't have power. They could've been sitting around complaining, but no, they helped to create something very positive.

"We had no idea it would get this big. But for people who came here to help us — taking time away from their own families — we were honored to help them.''

Contact Joey Johnston at [email protected]

Comments
Pinellas parking lot argument leads to possible ‘stand your ground’ fatal shooting

Pinellas parking lot argument leads to possible ‘stand your ground’ fatal shooting

CLEARWATER — Detectives are investigating a possible "stand your ground" law incident in which a 28-year-old man was fatally shot Thursday during a fight over a parking space.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Drejka, 47, shot...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

The NFL’s two-month old national anthem policy is on hold. Hours after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week, ...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday. In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Carlton: Rotary Clubs support no-women-allowed dinner. What year is this?

Going "stag" sounds so old-fashioned — boys night out, sans the gals.But it’s not so outdated in certain Rotary clubs in the Brandon suburbs and still rural Plant City. There, the decades-old no-women-allowed tradition of the yearly stag Wild Game Di...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates when training camp opens next week? What other storylines are significant for the Bucs?Plus, how will the Rays fare without Wilson Ramos, who has been placed on the disabled list and is expected to m...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NB I-75 reopens in Manatee after dangling truck pulled from bridge

NB I-75 reopens in Manatee after dangling truck pulled from bridge

MANATEE COUNTY — A portion of northbound Interstate 75 was closed Friday morning as crews tried to keep a dangling semi from going over the Trooper Jeff Young Memorial Bridge.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, troopers were first notified of th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hooper: Time to push the envelope in effort to build Rays stadium in Ybor

Hooper: Time to push the envelope in effort to build Rays stadium in Ybor

The Rays started employing a strategy of using relievers to start games when they sent Sergio Romo to the mound to face the Los Angeles Angels earlier this season. Through criticism and occasional outright ridicule, they stuck with the plan. And they...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Watch: Stranded whale rescued on Indian Shores

Watch: Stranded whale rescued on Indian Shores

Rescuers from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are on scene at Indian Shores where a melon-headed whale was found stranded Friday morning.Bonnie Charity, of Largo, and Jason McCarty, of Jamestown, Indiana, sat in the surf with the whale as rescue crews...
Updated: 1 hour ago
ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

ACC recap: Top sound bites from Charlotte

College football's talking season commenced this week with three Power Five conferences staging their annual media days. We were in Charlotte for the ACC gab-a-rama, where sound bites ranging from the bizarre to the brain-dead were generated.And that...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Updated: 2 hours ago