NEW YORK (Circa) — Sitting on top of the glass counter at Vinnie's Pizzeria in Brooklyn is a tip jar with a sticker redolent of the Dunkin' Donuts slogan, except with a twist: "America Runs On Immigrants."
And Vinnie's does, too. That's why when owner Sean Berthiaume saw that thousands of families were being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of the Trump administration's immigration policy, he knew he had to do something.
"My whole life is pizza," Berthiaume said. With that in mind, he and his team created heart-shaped pizzas to raise money for migrant families separated at the border.
"We chose to make heart-shaped pizza because I feel like a lot of people have been feeling helpless," he told Circa in an interview.
"There's a lot of hate in the world. This is a way to show love."
Altogether, Vinnie's two locations raised just over $2,000 from the fundraising event. Berthiaume's friend who works at Google matched the total proceeds, bringing the grand total to $4,000 in 24 hours.
All of the proceeds were split evenly among the following four charities that help families separated at U.S. borders: Kids in Need of Defense, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Catholic Charities of Rio Grande Valley.
"We're not just a bunch of Italians. There's Italians, Irish, Mexicans. Everybody's some sort of immigrant of some sort."
Unlike the shop's viral tide pod pizza and pizza box pizza, Berthiaume says the cause behind this pizza is one that is especially close to his team's heart.
"We're not just a bunch of Italians. There's Italians, Irish, Mexicans. Everybody's some sort of immigrant of some sort," he said. "We all felt strongly that these people were being persecuted and were in trouble and needed help. We're all humans and I like to think that we're all good people here. So, that's why we did it."
And our heart grew “three sizes that day!”. You did it! We did it! WE DID IT TOGETHER! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Yesterday we raised OVER 2000 DOLLARS (which will be matched by Google, so over 4000 DOLLARS!!!!) Insane! Your generous donations will be going to great organizations helping to care for and represent and fight for separated families at the border! (Texas Civil Rights Project @txcivilrights , Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Catholic Charities of Rio Grand Valley and Kids in Need of Defense @supportkind ) I really don’t know how to express our overwhelming gratitude properly. So many to mention. But I shall try. Thank you to everyone who came down to buy a slice! Or ordered multiple whole pies for delivery. Thank you to everyone that just came in just to give money! Thank you to people who stopped me on the street to donate! Thank you for out of town people that sent us money! People who donated on Facebook! Thank you to our lovely friend at Google for doubling this whole thing and helping me to set it up! A GIANT GIANT THANK YOU to our amazing staff who were fully on board and cut out hundreds and hundreds of hearts all day long with a smile on their face! Our pizza guys that cranked out cheese pie after cheese pie! Thank you to everyone who shared and posted and helped to spread the word! Sometimes the world seems dark and you feel helpless but yesterday proved to me that there’s love and humanity and hope all around us. You showed up in droves and it was inspiring. Dear friends and complete strangers all working together for a cause. Thank you for helping. And if you didn’t make it yesterday, please visit any of those organizations sites to donate. ETERNAL T. HANKS. ❤️VINNIE’S #familiesbelongtogether #keepfamiliestogether #vinniesbrooklyn #love #pizza #family #williamsburg #greenpoint