CHICAGO (CBS) — The outreach is called ‘Operation Pizza Bowl,’ and it’s the latest effort by a local charity to cheer up troops in Afghanistan on Super Bowl Sunday.
For many, it wouldn’t be Super Bowl Sunday without pizza. But for retired Air Force Master Sergeant Mark Evans, it wouldn’t be Super Bowl Sunday without getting pizza to troops overseas.
“They’re in a combat zone, and you know what, they’re thinking of home. My goal now is to put a smile of everybody’s face,” Evans said.
Evans is the force behind the non-profit Pizzas 4 Patriots, which is in its 9th year.
But it was Evans’ son who came up with the idea when he was a teenager — and its taken off ever since.
Evans said almost 170,000 pizzas have been shipped across the Atlantic. 800 more Pizzeria Uno Pies are heading to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan for Sunday’s kick-off.
Air Force Reserve Captain Tommy Holewinski is no stranger to the pizzas, having received some himself.
“The pizza is a big reminder of that life you left behind,” Holewinski said.
A slice, if you will, of home. One he said he remembers sharing with some Marines on base.
“I’m like, ‘hey I got some pizzas here. They’re not cooked, they’re par-baked.’ So they put them on top of the Humvee engine and just like revved the engine up and cooked them that way,” Holewinski said.
Donations fuel this mission, patriotism sustains it.
Evans said he never imagined he would still be doing this today.
“But one miracle after another just kept coming,” he said. “And it was like, I guess this is my next life. Pizza delivery guy.”
The group also gives pizzas to veterans’ hospitals around the country. Evans said it’s just another way to pay it forward.