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Remember that pizzeria that was feeding the homeless? See what happened when you shared their story.

If you were one of many who shared this story, here's what you helped make possible.

Remember that pizzeria that was feeding the homeless? See what happened when you shared their story.

You may recall the story of Rosa's Fresh Pizza from the first time we covered it back in March 2015.

The Philadelphia-based eatery is making sure kindness isn't just a slogan in the City of Brotherly Love. They invite customers to pay it forward by pre-purchasing $1 slices of pizza for homeless patrons.

And people happily chip in.


Our interview with Mason Wartman, owner of Rosa's, and some of his customers was viewed over 35 million times on Facebook alone.

And you, Internet, took a page out of the pay-it-forward playbook, sharing the story over 800,000 times!

Scroll down to watch the interview.

Since then, Wartman says, business at Rosa's has been picking up steam.

His email update four months later had us smiling ear-to-ear:

"It has been more than three months since you posted our story on Upworthy. It's been a CRAZY past couple months, but the business is both making more money and helping WAY more people than ever before."
—Mason Wartman

As of June 2015...

  • Rosa's has given away more than 23,000 slices (a 130% increase in just four months!) and is providing meals free of charge to up to 100 people on any given day.
  • The uptick in business means Wartman needs more employees. And true to Rosa's pay-it-forward spirit, he's hiring through agencies that connect homeless folks with jobs.
  • And they've even started selling official Rosa's apparel, which features designs by homeless artists. Half of all the revenue goes right back to supporting Philly's homeless community through pay-it-forward pizza. So far, T-shirt sales have funded a full 10% of donated slices.

"Making life a little easier to BEAR, one slice at a time!" Photos courtesy of Mason Wartman.

That's why theirs is a story worth sharing over and over again.

Not only does it generate more attention for this really great program (which in turn generates more food for the homeless), but it sends a powerful and unexpected message:

Business can thrive on kindness.

If this is the first time you're hearing about Rosa's, check out our interview with Wartman. And of course, pay it forward and pass it on.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.