While the polar vortex was a hindrance for many across the country, for pizza shop owner Tom Wyncoop it served as an impetus to help others. Not only did he continue delivering food around his hometown of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, he also took it upon himself to bring medical supplies to the elderly so they wouldn't have to leave their homes.
Best part of all, Tom's service was free of charge - you didn't even have to buy a slice of pizza.
"We live in this small community, we all have to do our part," Tom tells the Good News Blog. "Our customers are loyal to us, they come back to us for hoagies, pizza, whatever. The least I could do is be there for them."
In addition to running Fox's Pizza Den, located just outside Pittsburgh, Tom is also a paramedic and works the night shift as a nurse at a local nursing home. When he heard warnings that below freezing temperatures were on the way, he knew the senior citizens of the area would need assistance.
He posted a note on Twitter, telling folks to call up his cell phone if they needed their prescriptions delivered. He and his team were already out serving pizzas, so he figured, why not offer support? Tom also made it clear he wasn't looking for food orders.
"I didn't want them to think this was a way for them to buy pizza," he comments. "I told them, 'I don't want your money, I'd rather for you to just be home and stay safe.' That's the way I live."
Though he only served a handful of requests, Tom's selfless, motivational good deed spread far and wide. His story made the national news; it was picked up by blogs and local stations. As a result, he received countless emails, letters and notes thanking him for his kindness.
"Obviously, it's unique because it touched people around the world," Tom points out. "I'm overwhelmed."
A pastor in New Mexico wrote Tom a letter telling him that he used the story as the opening to his sermon. A woman in Maine commented that she was "moved to tears," and that his gesture inspired her to leave her farm behind and move across the country to California to take care of her 82-year-old father.
"It's just so heartwarming," Tom observes.
The ripple effect has been undeniable, and even Tom is using the momentum as a raison d'être. He has decided to partner with the Meals on Wheels program and create a database he can call the next time inclement weather hits the community.
Tom says he's striving to not just be "reactive, but proactive," and believes he will be able to reach even more people when he looks beyond social media.
On top of it, his pay-it-forward endeavor truly came full circle when a stranger walked into the pizza shop one day, and returned the favor.
"A gentleman came into the shop and he threw a 50 dollar bill down," Tom recalls. "I said, 'Sir, did you order pizzas? He says no. I said, 'Would you like to?' He says no. He says, 'You're doing good for the community and I appreciate it.'"
The man then walked back out the door.
Staying true to his mission, Tom posted a note on Facebook that he had been receiving donations, and would not only be putting them toward the Meals on Wheels program, but the pizza shop would match everything they received.
One thousand dollars later, Fox's Pizza Den prepares to write a $2,000 check.
He marveled at it all, saying, "It's unbelievable the impact this has made."
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