St. Joan of Arc School raises thousands to buy local meals for healthcare workers


HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — It turns out it isn’t just the chocolate that makes Hershey the sweetest place on earth. St. Joan of Arc Catholic School is showing their support for their neighbors at Hershey Medical with the universal language of love — food.

Two of the main things Italians are known for are having a big family and showing love to that family through food. Two Hershey Italians proved that that’s not just a stereotype.

“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else than in Hershey,” said president of Piazza Sorrento Pete Collura.

In Hershey, there’s people like Debra Rizzotto. She came up with the idea to create a fundraiser on St. Joan of Arc’s website asking for their families, parishioners, and community to donate money to buy meals for Hershey Medical Center workers.

“I thought we were only gonna get maybe $300, if we were lucky $500, but within 72 hours, it blew up,” said Debra Rizzotto, St. Joan of Arc School, director of development.

It blew up to the bank, with a nearly $8,400 donation.

“Humbling, it’s amazing. I get misty when i think about it,” says Tracy Johnsen, manager of volunteer services, Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Although, there are conditions on how the money is spent.

“Use the local restaurants, and there was one particular donor who asked that we don’t forget about third shift,” Rizzotto said.

It’s a win-win — they’re feeding healthcare workers.

“There’s a lot of great things happening, a lot of great working going on here, and they’re exhausted by the end of the day,” Johnsen said.

It also boosts businesses like — Piazza Sorrentos, her brother’s very authentically Italian restaurant.

“We’re a little bit short right now because we’re having a little bit less in the income, but in the long run, it will work out. We just have to work this out together,” Collura said.

Together is “where” Hershey shines.

“We’ve had other people come in and basically just come in and say, ‘send 10 pizzas over to the medical center,’ on so and so date,” Collura said.

“Together” is also how they’ll get through this crisis.

“None of the fancy stuff is really important. It’s important that we help each other out, that we are a community, that we look out for each other,” Rizzotto said.

“I can’t believe how amazing our community is and how much they want to reach out in support,” Johnsen said.

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