Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza has been community-focused since its new, Newport Beach owners purchased the venerable pizza joint and reopened it in the fall of 2013. The restaurant has become so successful that the four partners have opened two more locations in Orange County.
The owners have given back to the community by hosting fundraisers for local sports teams and donating pizzas and gift cards to first responders and other deserving individuals and groups.
Perhaps the charitable endeavor that closest to the hearts of Sgt. Pepperoni’s owners and staff is their annual fundraiser for Julian’s LEGO Corner, held every September in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Julian’s LEGO Corner is an Orange County-based charity that donates new LEGO kits for seriously ill hospitalized children to play with while they undergo medical care at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).
Julian was the son of Richard Dunn, a longtime journalist and sportswriter in Orange County. Julian was also friends with Lauren Roberts, daughter of Sgt. Pepperoni’s partners, Erica and Jeff Roberts.
Lauren and Julian were classmates, neighbors and friends when Julian was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to undergo strenuous treatment. Lauren stepped up to raise money with a lemonade stand to show her support for Julian.
Lauren’s mother, Erica, said “She was only five years old at the time, but she knew how to make cookies and lemonade. So, she said, ‘Mom, I want to do a lemonade stand for Julian.’”
Lauren raised more than $1,500 with her lemonade stand the first day, and continued hosting lemonade stands to raise money for Julian over the next few years, as well as a musical event in Julian’s honor.
Now in high school, Lauren has also created Sweet Things For A Sweet Cause, a collection of desserts benefitting Julian’s LEGO Corner that are available for purchase at Sgt. Pepperoni’s stores year-round.
Now in its sixth year, the September fundraiser helps spread awareness for Julian’s LEGO Corner and celebrates Julian’s legacy by bringing a smile to other children at CHOC.
Last year, Sgt. Pepperoni’s raised $16,000, which bought a lot of LEGOS. The team has an even bigger goal in 2021.
“It’s a cause that’s near and dear to our hearts,” confirmed Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza co-owner Stan Frazier. “One hundred percent of the proceeds from our pizza of the month, and all dessert sales, get donated to CHOC to purchase LEGOS. This year we are pushing by asking local businesses and entrepreneurs to match our donation. We want to make the number bigger and really make a difference.”
Frazier said that this month, they are bringing their pizza truck to CHOC to make pizzas for the kids in the hospital.
“It’s a big month for us,” said Frazier. “Julian’s parents are still involved. It’s a great way to give back. It’s a cause we really believe in. The kids love it when they get a new LEGO toy, because they cannot go outside but they can be creative inside.”
And CHOC needs an endless supply of LEGOS because many of the young patients at CHOC, especially those receiving care in the oncology unit and children with other serious conditions, cannot be exposed to germs, so their LEGO toys must be new and unopened.
To show your support for Julian’s LEGO Corner, Sgt. Pepperoni’s will be collecting new LEGO sets and cash donations at all three locations (Aliso Viejo, Newport Beach and Irvine) for CHOC patients throughout September.
And you can always purchase the Pizza of the Month (The Parma Pie) or a dessert knowing the proceeds will be donated to Julian’s LEGO Corner.
For more information and store locations, please visit www.Sgtpepps.com.