Meet the Slice of Kindness winners
We put out a call for people spreading kindness, and we’re stoked to report that we’ve found them. Quite a lot of them, really.
As part of our Slice of Kindness competition, we’re rewarding individuals and groups who, through their good deeds, are making the world a better place in ways big and small. (Although no kindness truly feels small when you’re on the receiving end, are we right?) As a result of your tips, we were able to award deluxe Ooni bundles in three different regions – the United States, the UK, and Germany – to those lending their helping hands for the good of the community.
In recognition of their efforts, we surprised our winners with a full suite of Ooni gear just in time to help them continue spreading the goodwill on Ooni Day this 18th September.
We also wanted to thank you for all your nominations! With your help, we were able to revel in the best of humanity from all over the world. From all of the submissions, 21 of the most generous stood out as the clear Slice of Kindness winners.
Now, it’s time to meet them!
Battalion Chief Michael Leonard and crew (New London, CT, Fire Department)
Super Dad alert! When newly promoted Battalion Chief Michael Leonard isn’t leading his shift at the fire department with the compassion his wife and crew have come to know and love him for, he’s giving his kids every ounce of energy and attention he’s got. Even when he hasn’t slept much because he’s been out saving his community from fires or health emergencies all night. He’s always stepped up and been there for others in their times of need. Michael’s a natural born leader who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's the kind of person who “works for his guys” even though they technically report to him. We heard he takes the lead on pizza night when he’s on shift. We’re excited to see how his pizza game levels up with his new Ooni oven.
When Adrian, a small town in eastern Oregon, lost their only grocery store – Adrian 2040 stepped up to help fight food insecurity by establishing a local food pantry. Operating out of an elementary school basement, this non-profit has been able to serve between 20 to 40 high-risk families a week. They’ve expanded operations and created the Adrian Community Market, an outdoor summer event where they set up their Ooni Pro and sell handmade pizzas. The money made from the market goes into stocking the shelves of the food pantry and gives a little extra budget to buy specialty ingredients like condiments, holiday baking ingredients or pies at Thanksgiving. With an Ooni prize bundle, Adrian 2040 will be able to make more pizzas at their market events and will raise even more money to help stock their food pantry for their community.
Somerset Hills Learning Institute
Meet PJ. He’s a boy with Autism who LOVES, and we seriously mean loves, making and eating pizzas with his dad in their Ooni oven. He does well with processes that have a start and finish, which is why he loves the process of making pizza. It’s his favorite thing to do – making dough, adding his favorite toppings, supervising the cooking of his pizza and of course, eating it. He’s been able to build speech and social skills through the fun of making pizza and wants to use his Ooni bundle to help his classmates. That’s why his family will be donating their Ooni bundle to his school, so they can auction it during their fall fundraiser and use the money to help PJ and all his peers.
Paul Kendall lives by the mantra of kindness. He’s always gathering neighbours together for meals (which was put on pause during lockdown but started right back up again when it was safe to do so), dropping off surprise donuts on neighbour’s front patios and making pizzas and handing out slices to people as they walk by in front of his house. He also volunteers with a local group who feed, encourage and give supplies to the unhoused population in his area, and he can even be spotted from time to time playing encouraging music and cheering on runners as they compete in races since the finish line is usually set up in the park at the end of his street. You go Paul, King of Kindness, we’re cheering you on from Ooni HQ.
Franklin Fire Department
Most of the firefighters in the Franklin Fire Department work on a volunteer basis. Even though they have families and lives outside of the firehouse, they selflessly give up their time to continuously answer the call of their community in their times of greatest need. They put the wellbeing of strangers above their own, daily, and train for countless hours each year so they can be ready for any situation that might present itself. We admire these first responders for their dedication to keeping their communities safe. We hope their Ooni bundle gives them back even the smallest bit of comfort that they give to their community, every day.
As a private person, Karen Blomenkamp performs her good deeds for her community. And she does so without expecting praise or recognition in return. She volunteers in construction, focusing primarily on helping people with special needs by, for example, building ramps and doing free remodelling. Or she simply takes on free home repairs for neighbours who can't afford them themselves. She also runs Stewardship Gardens, whose mission is to provide fresh food to families in need. Each year, her team of volunteers plants and gathers a total of 10.000 pounds of fruits and vegetables from their own gardens and from local gardeners, which they donate to local food banks and directly to families in need. Karen hosts barbecues and pizza parties for her team to thank them for their hard work - we hope her Ooni bundle takes their celebrations to the next level!
Ben Cirrillo has stepped up for the people in his townhouse community time and time again. When the move to digitising bills, bylaws and general community management was too much for the elderly owners and board members, Ben offered to educate them all to smooth the transition. He was always patient, always kind. Members of the townhouse community were worried about hiring a new management company since it would increase their monthly payments and they weren’t sure they would be able to afford it. Instead of letting them suffer financially, Ben’s become the go-to person behind the scenes that supports the board with tenant management to keep costs down for these families. And when one of his neighbours who’s a single mother and a nurse got sick with COVID-19, he and his wife took care of her children while she had to quarantine without a second thought. Ben always does whatever it takes to care for the people around him, so we’re happy to award him an Ooni bundle so that he can have a little time to take care of himself.
Throughout the various UK lockdowns, the team at the Madoch Centre went above and beyond the usual services they provide to St Madoes to make sure that no one was in need of anything. They opened a community food pantry and delivered hot food to elderly and vulnerable villagers like shepherd's pie and pizza. They were so dedicated to helping those around them, they even made deliveries on skis when the snow was particularly high. In normal times, the center provides a safe and friendly space for exercise classes, teas and coffees, support groups and transport to hospital appointments or other places for people with mobility issues. Armed with an Ooni bundle, who knows what they’ll be capable of doing for their village!
Neston Nomad Girls
The Neston Nomads Girl’s team is more than just a football club. These highly passionate players, coaches and parents have instilled a strong sense of community in their team culture, raising money for hospice care for local child and adult hospice centers. At their matches, you’ll see a pop up tea shop where they raise their money, no matter the weather. The footballers credit their coach, Rob Lawton, with sparking their drive for community service. We can only imagine the creative fundraising opportunities the team will be able to achieve with an Ooni bundle and we look forward to seeing the good they continue to do.
Crowsmill Craft Centre C.I.C.
Crowsmill Craft Centre C.I.C. opens their doors to people with differing needs, those with physical and mental challenges, adults with mental health issues, those who have been out of work for lengthy periods and disaffected young people who struggle with mainstream schooling. The non-profit offers training programs to these individuals where they can learn skills like woodworking, craft work, metal work, horticulture and animal care – with the goal of improving their life chances and giving them the confidence and life skills to obtain a permanent job. They were nominated by a volunteer in their program who praised the small but dedicated and caring staff. With an Ooni bundle, they’ll be able to incorporate pizza parties and cooking classes into their programming, benefiting their clients, volunteers and staff, alike.
Let us virtually invite you to Nicole’s House – a home where Nicole and Cameron, two adults with severe disabilities and complex health needs live, supported around the clock by their team of healthcare workers. The past year and a half have been incredibly tough for the team, as a whole. The new restrictions, like having to wear full PPE at all times, have presented new challenges. But, the team has been able to keep everyone healthy despite huge logistical hurdles. With their Ooni bundle, we heard about plans for a massive pizza party to thank the staff for all their hard work and extra effort. A big pizza party would be a chance for everyone to have some fun, eat great food and be shown how much they are valued for all the work they do for Nicole and Cameron – we have to say, that’s an Ooni approved cause if we’ve ever heard one!
Diana Dennis is a pillar of support for the elderly and vulnerable residents of her small neighbourhood. During the UK lockdown, she mobilised a team of volunteers to run groceries or other essential errands and make sure everyone felt supported. Even when the lockdown was lifted, she continues to visit residents to maintain social interaction and preserve the friendships formed during that time. Outside of her work in the community, she enjoys cooking and has honed her skills as a pizza maker. We are pleased to be able to give her the Ooni Bundle of her dreams so that she can continue her journey to becoming the neighbourhood's master pizzaiola.
Secondary school teacher Pippa Wright continued going into school, putting her own health at risk during the pandemic to make sure others could stay safe. Outside of school, she runs a local youth group for kids aged 11-18 and is a leader for Brownie and Rainbow Guides in Girlguiding. She’s challenged herself to keep activities fun and exciting, even after having to transition to zoom – and went above and beyond to keep in contact with each child to make sure they were doing well, keeping active and staying healthy, both mentally and physically. Her daughter described her as making a huge difference to everyone that she knows because she’s full of joy, and we can sure see it!
Nine-year-old Nancy was upset by the amount of used face masks she saw littering the ground outside her local GP surgery. She decided to write them a letter suggesting they set up a bin with a sign outside the building encouraging people to dispose of their masks properly. The doctors agreed and got it set up the next week. The littering of masks reduced greatly and Nancy is very proud of her work. In addition to receiving a nature award locally, we thought Nancy deserved an Ooni bundle for not only showing kindness to her community, but for showing kindness to our Earth. You’re our hero, Nancy.
German Slice of Kindness Winners
Nandini International is a small non-profit organisation that started the Nandini Flood Relief. Their name comes from Indian and means BRINGING JOY! Isn't that glorious? Because that is exactly what they do! Nandini International is committed to all kinds of charitable causes. With the support of influencers and their outreach, they help environmental projects, schools, the homeless, and people living below the poverty line. Most currently, they are tirelessly helping flood victims in North Rhine-Westphalia on a daily basis. They organise daily shuttles with volunteers to the affected areas to help with the cleanup. On weekends, they have managed to get 50 people to volunteer! With #NANDINI flood relief, they also collected and distributed needed donations, such as money or clothes. This is joy (literally) and kindness in its purest form. We are happy to donate an Ooni Bundle to Nandini International. Every volunteer deserves a slice of pizza!
Kevin Liebl rolled up his sleeves and made it happen during the flooding in his region! He collected donations for a flooded kindergarten in the Salm Valley so that it could quickly reopen. He also used the money collected to buy 500 liters of water and ingredients to bake pizza on his Ooni Fyra and feed the helpers. Then he collected hygiene products, baby food and all sorts of things for the village of Odendorf and distributed them there himself. He is a kindergarten teacher and a passionate cook. Go Kevin! You´re a legend, you gave Pizza a place in heaven!
The MAR Warmbach is a local church parish that organises the yearly “Solawano” (summer camp Warmbach-Nollingen) for about 59-70 children, all on a voluntary basis. Many of the volunteers have to take their private vacation for it. They also bear part of the costs. Just now during Covid-19 everything was very difficult to plan but they still did with great effort. At the end, they managed it and made it possible for the children to participate in the summer camp again. A bright light at the end of Covid-lockdown-tunnel. Even if their parents couldn't afford it, with the “Solawano” they can include almost everyone interested. It benefits children and their families and gives them much needed recreation! And what is recreation without pizza? Exactly. Pizza feeds those hungry children's mouths and hearts. Your Ooni Bundle is on the way!
Andreas Herz für Kinder
Not all heroes wear capes? True. Sometimes they wear aprons. Just like Andreas Weiß. He cooked pizza in his front garden with his Ooni and sold it for a donation to the neighbourhood. In doing so, he made everyone very happy, and at the same time he was able to raise and donate quite some money to the registered association "Ein Herz für Kinder" (A Heart for Children), an internationally active aid organisation concerned with the most vulnerable members of society, the children. He made every pizza count, quite literally. Andreas, you made our hearts beat faster. Thank you!
Klaus Dieter Schmitt
Klaus Dieter is the chairman of the village and is therefore committed to the common good. He organises environmental days, takes care of the community's senior citizens and also drives to the flood victims on Saturdays to help them. And that's not all. He is also involved in refugee support, where he has helped one one family in particular.We are also very proud to announce that Klaus Dieter and Ooni have an important date in common! His birthday falls on Ooni Day, September 18! Real soul mates, if you will.
Isa from “SolidAHRität”
Isa has founded the group "SolidAHRität" to help the victims of the flood disaster in Ahrweiler. Since day 1, they have been providing unbureaucratic help to the local people and supporting them with (wo)manpower and emergency supplies from collected donations. They try to be a support for the local people even after the end of the state support. They are also planning a party soon, especially for the helpers and volunteers on the ground. Go SolidAHRität! How couldn´t we not support this cause?! These heroes deserve their own festival. After feeding the volunteers with their Ooni Bundle and celebrating their kindness at the festival, they even plan to give it away to those in need afterwards. With all the worries they currently have, this will be a wonderful distraction and moment of joy! Thank you, Isa, for sharing love, joy and pizza!
Sometimes all we need is just to take a breath of fresh air in the open nature. Just a break from built-up areas and some distraction from our routine. This can sometimes get difficult in most cities, where noise and pollution pull people down. The Veedelgarten is a great urban gardening project in the middle of Cologne, one of Germany's bigger cities. It gives nature and the suburb a great support in times of climate change. As we know, greenery, plants and nature benefit not only the environment but also the community by offering a great place to gather friends and neighbours. Since you have created such a beautiful space, we want to complement it with great pizza. Which makes it even more perfect.