GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hundreds of people in Grand Rapids started off their new year with a hot meal. Flo's Pizza donated more than 100 pies to two homeless shelters downtown and thanks to volunteers, served each and every slice.
It was a New Year's Day to remember for hundreds of people at both Mel Trotter and Dégagé Ministries.
"I'm ecstatic on the inside and I'm trying not to show it too much, but it's a heartwarming feeling for everybody," said Alex Garcia, general manager of Flo's Pizza. "I'm just seeing everyone having a good time and everyone is pitching in and working hard. Everything just worked out."
Flo's Pizza originally planned on donating 101 pizzas, but when word got out about what they were doing people called them to pay for more. On Sunday, 121 pizza pies were served.
"It's so exciting because oftentimes the people we serve see the partying going on around them and the gift giving and sometimes it can be a lonely time if they don't have family in town," said Marge Palmerlee, executive director of Dégagé Ministries. "To know that a business in our community reaches out and shares with them means a lot."
Staff from Flo's Pizza say they were overwhelmed by the response of people wanting to volunteer.
"We probably have about 70 volunteers this year which was tremendous," Garcia said. "When you look around you'll see it's just a really heartfelt occasion starting the new year out great."
"It seems like everybody here is thankful to be here for the free food," said volunteer Reuben Blackwell. "Everybody is in high spirits."
Spirits were high for a hot meal and a community willing to help out on New Year's Day.
"Everyone is always very appreciative," Palmerlee said. "They know that businesses don't have to do this and our community is very giving, so they are very appreciative."
This is the second year Flo's Pizza has done a pizza donation on New Year's Day. They're planning on expanding to Heartside Ministries next year in addition to Mel Trotter and Dégagé.