A GoFundMe campaign made sure striking teachers and school service personnel rallying at the state Capitol weren’t doing so on empty stomachs.
Husson’s Pizza delivered 700 pizzas total to the Capitol for those striking on Monday and Tuesday, all paid for via a fundraiser started by the head of a San Francisco education union.
“Our goal is to provide pizza for strikers throughout this week and beyond, if necessary,” said a post on the campaign page started by Lita Blanc, president of United Educators of San Francisco.
Blanc referred to the fundraiser as a “pizza solidarity campaign” in posts. It has raised more than $20,000 since it began Sunday. More than 770 people donated to the cause as of Tuesday afternoon, when the strike ended.
In an interview, Blanc said she’s been on strike herself and understands basic needs like food are often unaccounted for during demonstrations.
“It was a very concrete thing we could do to help,” she said. “For the people on the ground, how many are going to stick around if there isn’t any food?”
The campaign easily surpassed its initial $10,000 goal to pay for three deliveries that would feed an estimated 3,000 workers.
Following the first pizza delivery Monday at noon, the page said $15,000 had already been raised. Husson’s Pizza made its second delivery Tuesday.
A few hours after helping deliver 350 pizzas to the Capitol Tuesday, Husson’s Pizza owner Nick Husson said it was likely the largest order in company history.
Orders of that scale require coordination, Husson said, and several of the company’s 10 locations made pizzas to satisfy the hungry demonstrators.
“What I do is look at the delivery location, how far it is where we’re going to be delivering, factor in the personnel that can do [the order] and take it from there,” he said.
Blanc said she heard from a “teacher on the ground” that Husson’s Pizza has catered for the state arm of the American Federation of Teachers union, so she decided to choose the family-owned company to satisfy the daunting orders.
Husson said he can’t quite remember what Monday and Tuesday’s orders totaled out to profit-wise, but added that the deliveries had a larger meaning behind them.
“Sometimes you turn around and make a 350-pizza order and it turns out OK for you, but you don’t do it for the money, you do it to try and support the community everyday,” he said.
The third order won’t be necessary Wednesday after Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill giving teachers, school personnel and State Police a 5 percent pay raise, ending the strike.
However, the fundraiser page says excess funds won’t go to waste. Instead, they will be donated to the West Virginia Education Association, AFT-WV and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, it says.
Following the House of Delegates and Senate’s passage of the bill, Blanc posted an update on the GoFundMe page.
“A striking teacher in Charleston just texted me: ‘They are signing the 5% now!’” she said in a post. “Your support meant so much to the thousands of teachers and other striking workers who were determined to continue the strike till they got the 5%. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
Blanc said two different people messaged her saying they would organize a similar campaign for Oklahoma public school teachers if they decide to strike.
“I was glad it ended up coming out OK for the teachers,” Husson said. “I’m not making a political statement, I’m just saying I know a whole lot of them and I’m glad it is going to work out for them.”