RAVENNA, Ohio — The owners of Domino's in Ravenna, Debbie and Terry Stephens, estimate their employees have tossed, topped and baked 1.8 million pizzas over the past 35 years.
However, some of their most rewarding deliveries have taken place over the past two weeks. The couple continues to donate hot pizzas to first responders, healthcare employees and other essential workers during the pandemic.
"Being part of the community is that we serve their needs," Debbie said. "Feeding them brought a little bit of joy in this time."
Last week, the owners delivered 200 free pizzas to multiple locations, including police and fire departments, the Ohio State Highway Patrol post, the Portage County Sheriff's Office and UH Portage Medical Center. The kind gestures continued on Thursday afternoon as Domino's delivered 13 pizzas—the first of three rounds—to Giant Eagle employees.
Terry said many of the workers have been extremely grateful.
"They've sent us pictures, thank you cards. They've called us," he said.
The owners have also received donations from the community. Debbie said that money will help pay for additional pizzas, which will be sent to other stores and local nursing home workers.
"We've had $260 donated from community members to help continue feeding the need," Debbie said.
In the middle of all of their generosity, the pandemic hit home for the Stephens family.
Their 29-year-old son, Talon Stephens, who is a married father and a healthcare worker in a hospital, became infected with the coronavirus.
He began feeling sick last weekend with a fever and tested positive. Talon is in quarantine and separating himself from his wife and their 18-month-old son inside their home.
"We were just shocked," Debbie said. "He's just scared to death. He's just really scared and it was just life-altering for us."
The owners hope the free pizza gives frontline workers a small sense of normalcy and reminds them how much they are appreciated.
"We'll just keep doing it until we run out," Terry said.
According to a press release, Domino's stores nationwide will donate more than 1.2 million pizzas or about 10 million slices across their communities.