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Grotto donates over $24,000 to Haiti Relief

In the picture: Jeffrey Gosnear, Grotto Pizza Vice President; Laura McCann, Grotto Pizza, Director of Employee and Community Relations; Dominick Pulieri, President and Founder of Grotto Pizza; Bishop Peggy Johnson, United Methodist Church.

Delaware Pizza Company Contributes

$24,744 to Haiti Relief through UMCOR

By Elliott Wright*

Seaford, Delaware, February 18,–The owner of Grotto Pizza, a chain of 18 Delaware restaurants, on February 18 presented Bishop Peggy A. Johnson of the Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference a check for $24,744 for Haiti earthquake relief through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Dominick A. Pulieri, founder of Grotto, made the presentation at his restaurant in Seaford during a lunch he hosted for the bishop, the conference cabinet, and other guests from the church, community, and the company.

The gift represents 15 per cent of all pizza sales during the week of January 20-26.  An earlier scheduled presentation was delayed because of a snow blizzard.

Bishop Johnson thanks Mr. Pulieri, the employees of Grotto, and the patrons of the restaurants on behalf of UMCOR and The United Methodist Church. This is just great, she said, It means that we will be able to help more people in desperate conditions in Haiti. It is wonderful.

Grotto Pizza is a private company begun by Mr. Pulieri 50 years ago when he was 17 years old. “Mr. Pulieri strongly believes in helping those in need, in ‘giving back’ to the community,” said Laura H. McCann, Grotto’s director of employee and community relations in an interview during the course of the January campaign.

The suggestion to designate the funds for UMCOR came from Ms. McCann, who is a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Seaford. I knew from my own experience that 100 percent of all donations to UMCOR goes to the intended purpose,” she said.

Other Grotto executives, she said, quickly agreed when they saw UMCOR’s very high charity ratings online. “It has an A+,” she recalled one person saying.

The company placed full-page advertisements in the News Journal, a state-wide newspaper, on three different days in mid-January. Several other newspapers ran stories and notices that appeared on the Facebook and Twitter social networks. Some United Methodist churches also promoted the special opportunity to increase funds for UMCOR.

Grotto is no newcomer to disaster relief. It made contributions through UNICEF in response to the late 2004 tsunami in South Asia and sent huge quantities of water to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

The pizza company has 800 year-round employees in its stories, offices, or facilities where pizza dough is mixed. That number swells to 1,300 in the summer when business picks up in the Delaware beach area. Many of the summer hires are international students.

“Mr. Pulieri started the business in 1960,” Ms. McCann said. “At first it was just in the summer. It expanded and became his life-work–a company that offers quality products and cares about its employees and communities.”

Bishop Johnson was meeting with the conference cabinet at St. John’s church on the day of the UMCOR presentation.

Elliott Wright is a retired United Methodist clergyman and writer who lives in southern Delaware.