Papa John’s employee Tamara Phillips says she will be ready to do it all over again next year, despite one of the busiest days in Papa John’s franchise history and a day where she worked more than 12 hours straight donating everything she made to the to the first ever Papa John’s Pizza Dreams For Kids Day.
Phillips, a mother and one of about 40 local employees who donated their wages, time and tips to the Dreams For Kids Day, said it was an amazing experience at the store and much busier than they anticipated.
Overall over $42,000 was raised in sales, wages tips and donations at Papa John’s restaurants in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Kamloops and Prince George.
“Overall it was great and fun and thankfully everyone was patient,” said Phillips, who became emotional in talking about the fundraising effort, which will allow kids a one-day trip to Disneyland this fall.
“I just think if that was my kid, I’d really be thankful that someone did something like this. I think it was awesome.”
This year marked the first year for Papa John’s outlets stepped forward to host the one-day fundraiser, a long-running event in Kelowna that used to be hosted by Wendy’s. But when the hamburger chain opted to focus on other charity efforts, Kelowna restauranteur Geoff Linquist, who owns the Kelowna and West Kelowna Papa John’s, stepped in to pick up the slack.
“I’ve known this event for years and years and have had the privilege to meet some of the children and their families,” said Linquist. “So when we saw that it was going to go away we felt compelled to do something. We didn’t know if it would work but we talked with the Sunshine Foundation and with our team and we thought let’s do it.”
And more than a success, Linquist said the event was overwhelming, even setting a (unofficial) one-day record for sales at a Papa John’s restaurant in Canada at the Kelowna location where people waited hours for pizza, phoning in orders from the line and coming back to pick them up.
“We’ve never seen sales like that ever,” said Linquist. “It was completely off the charts.”
The money will go towards the Sunshine Dreamlift, which will launch in December of this year, making kids dreams come true in a long-standing tradition of a one-day flight from Kelowna to Disneyland.
“For a lot of these kids it’s the first time they have been away from their parents,” said Linquist, a day after the event and working on three hours sleep. “The staff were amazing. A lot of them were on their feet all day so we have some sore bodies and tired faces. But we were happy to do it. It’s not so much about Papa John’s, it’s the community that rallies around this. The success of this is a reflection on our community.”
Not even 12 hours after finishing her shift Wednesday, Tamara Phillips was back making pizzas at the Kelowna Papa John’s. She said they will be ready to go next year.
“We will make some changes next year,” she said with a smile. “But I think it was an awesome event.”