The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will make a stop in Winchester on Friday, Dec. 29 at the Winchester Rescue Mission. / Courtesy photo.
WINCHESTER, VA – The Little Caesars Love Kitchen will roll into the Winchester Rescue Mission on Friday, December 29, to serve a free pizza lunch to community members.
The big-rig doubles as a mobile kitchen and travels across the United States, feeding the hungry and homeless, as well as disaster survivors.
Little Caesars local franchise owners donate the resources necessary to make each Love Kitchen serving a success. An estimated 50,000 franchisees, their employees and corporate colleagues have volunteered over the years to support the program in their local communities.
Brandan Thomas, Executive Director of the Winchester Rescue Mission, said, “It’s a real treat to have Little Caesars come out and support us. It shows the guys the community is behind them.”
The pizza chain reached out to the nonprofit organization that serves homeless men after they “saw the work we were doing and wanted to partner with what we were already accomplishing, “ Thomas said in a Wednesday interview.
The Mission doesn’t typically serve lunch, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help spread the message of love to those in need. Free pizza will be served at noon at 435 N. Cameron Street. Everyone is welcome to eat.
The Winchester Rescue Mission serves between 2,500 and 3,000 meals each month. Dinner is served at 5:00 p.m. daily and is open to any man, woman, or child who is in need of a meal.
“Our nightly dinners continue to grow,” Thomas said. “We pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming environment for everyone in our community. We have very generous volunteers who’ve been able to keep up with the high demand this winter.”
As word of the Love Kitchen is spreading throughout the area, members of the community have stepped forward to offer additional help. Some have donated sodas to be served with the pizza.
Others have brought new coats to the facility to give to the residents. Items needed include: warm socks, gloves, hats, coats, and gift cards to purchase items. A list of the Mission’s most needed items can be found here: Current Mission needs. Donated items can be dropped off at 435 N. Cameron Street between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
More information about the Winchester Rescue Mission, which has been serving the community since 1974, is available at winrescue.org.
A chief goal of Thomas’ is to educate the public about the issue of homelessness. Often, he says, the public tends to view a homeless person as lazy, drug-addicted or worse. It is more likely that the person has experienced one or more circumstances that combine to contribute to homelessness.
Many Americans these days are only a paycheck or two away from dire circumstances, and the loss of a job, or having an illness without sick-days to provide for missed work hours can be enough to create homelessness.
“These people are no different than you or I, “ Thomas said in the interview. “They are often the victim of multiple circumstances.”
While no solid figures were available for the current homeless population in Winchester-Frederick County, a count last year put the number somewhere north of 200.
In addition to his role of nearly two years at the Mission, Thomas serves as Pastor of the Canvas Church, which meets at the Virginia Ave. Elementary School. In fact, he relocated to the city of Winchester to begin the church.
Little Caesars has two trucks in operation, which are in service 365 days a year. The restaurants on wheels have served more than three million people, according to the corporate website.
The Love Kitchen has been recognized for its charitable efforts, receiving The President’s Volunteer Action Award Citation from former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The Reagan administration also awarded the Love Kitchen a Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives.