Updated: November 02, 2020 10:23 PM
Created: November 02, 2020 08:36 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A local pizzeria in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights partnered with KOB 4 to help Pay it 4ward to the Boys and Girls Club of Central New Mexico.
Chicago Pizza Kitchen specializes in deep dish handcrafted pizzas with a side of helping out the community.
“Honestly, from the bottom of my heart I have such a deep appreciation for what you guys are doing—paying it forward,” said Mr. Clean, Chicago Pizza Kitchen owner.
KOB 4 picked up the tab for Chicago Pizza Kitchen to make all the pizzas needed for a pizza party. Owner Mr. Clean said it was an easy yes.
“I, for one, was an underprivileged kid from an inner city neighborhood. I grew up very, very poor. I remember all the commodities and things,” he said. “It's a different feeling for when you grow up like that, and if wasn't for programs like Pay it Forward, the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YDI, YMCA, I wouldn't be at where I'm at today.”
The staff put extra tender care into these pies knowing that they were going to kids who would really appreciate them.
“I feel more than privileged to do my part and I'm very grateful you guys selected me to participate in the program,” Mr. Clean said.
After loading up the pies, KOB 4 headed out to the Boys and Girls Club.
Christian Naea, chief program officer at the Boys and Girls Club, said they were only offering after school programs at first, but the pandemic forced them to rethink their mission.
“We see a lot of kids who don't have access to WiFi. We serve all youth, but a large population who we serve are at-risk. They don't have access to Wi-Fi, or tablets or computers,” he said.
The Boys and Girls Club is now a place for students to do their virtual learning in a safe, nurturing and socially distanced environment. Students are connected to their online classrooms all day and staff makes sure they complete assignments and stay engaged.
“We're finding the need in the community is parents who are essential workers, parents who just need to work, those families— they need a place for their children to go to receive that academic support they need,” Naea said.
After the students finished their schoolwork they lined up to get some pizza. Pizza parties may not look the same these days, but what is the same is what we've always known about kids—that they are resilient. With the right encouragement, and a little help from the community, they’re on their way to create a bright future for all of us.
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