WESTFIELD, NJ — With the help of his customers, the owner of Outta Hand Pizza donated 40 meals to Valley Brook Village in Lyons, a supportive housing community for homeless veterans, earlier this week.
Burim Regjaj drove the pizza, hot sandwiches, salads and appetizers to the facility and stayed to enjoy the meal with the veterans on Thursday night. The donation was an extension of a program for veterans started by the restaurant, which will celebrate its first year in business next month.
“Pre-Pay A Meal For a Veteran” began last summer. Outta Hand Pizza provides free meals to veterans who come in, and Regjaj hosts a monthly dinner for veterans at the restaurant. The meal delivery to Valley Brook Village helps to serve those veterans, who are unable to travel to the restaurant.
Steve Hackenberg, who runs Friends of Valley Brook notes that Regjaj's is the first business who has reached out to partner with the organization, which works with small businesses to provide meals, haircuts and more to the 64 previously homeless veterans, many of whom experience food insecurity.
“We are really grateful to businesses like Outta Hand Pizza,” Hackenberg said. “These simple things that many of us take for granted — like a meal — have a great impact on my friends. Burim is a part of a much bigger thing that helps to build a sense of community. When they know so many people care, it makes a difference.”
Outta Hand Pizza also works with Martin Wallberg American Legion Post 3 in Westfield. Auxiliary President Sharon Knight has brought veterans over for the meals that Regjaj has hosted.
“Burim reached out to arrange this, and it was really a wonderful idea,” Knight said. “There was plenty of great food and our veterans really enjoyed it. They even left with to-go containers.”
Outta Hand Pizza will be hosting another dinner for veterans from the American Legion in the next few weeks.
“Westfield has been so good to us,” said Regjaj, who also feels a strong connection to U.S. military members, who intervened in his native Kosovo in the 1990s, shortly before he came to the U.S. “It’s only fair that we give back.”
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