For the next seven weeks, Sam’s Sorrento Pizza will pay tribute to America’s armed forces by donning its own camouflage uniform.
Through Veterans Day, large pizzas will be sold in special camouflage-colored boxes as part of the company’s ongoing Support Our Troops fund-raiser.
Sam’s Sorrento Pizza founder Al Marino created the fund-raiser after hearing about the lack of services and support available to returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
In an effort to do his part, Marino has committed a portion of the sale of every large Sorrento pizza to the Veterans Support Center in Roseville, which is operated by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154.
Wanting to ensure that any donations made by his company and customers would benefit local veterans first, Marino partnered with Chapter 154, which through the support center, provides services such as counseling, compensation and disability claims instruction, and a food bank to all local veterans.
“We’re an organization that is run strictly by volunteers. No one gets paid,” said Brian Bobek, president of Chapter 154. “One hundred percent of what we take in goes out to support the veterans of Macomb County and so obviously more money coming in the door means more programs we can do.”
A kickoff celebration for the initiative was held Tuesday at the Mount Clemens Sorrento location, where franchise owners, local officials and members of Chapter 154 gathered to show their support.
"We're just happy to be able to give back to the local community, to help the veterans because they help everyday of their lives," said Glenda Lang, who with her husband Steve owns the Sorrento's on Harper in St. Clair Shores. "Any support is greatly appreciated."
Marino's original goal was to raise $10,000 by Nov. 11, but upon presenting the pledge check to Bobek, he announced his intent to raise the goal to $15,000.
“If all goes well, will make this an annual event and help keep the Veterans Support Center open,” Marino said.
In addition to pizza sales, all Sorrento locations will also have miniature American flags for customers to purchase with a donation. The customer can then write his or her name on the flag and it will be hung in their Sorrento store. One hundred percent of those donations will benefit the support center.
“I think they deserve it,” said Vince Lepore, owner of the Macomb Township Sorrento. “They deserve everything for what they give to us. It’s an honor to help in any way possible.”