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A Florida pizzeria came up with a simple but smart way for customers to pay it forward.

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A guy down on his luck walked into the Winter Garden Pizza Company in Apopka, Florida, to buy a piece of pizza. Then he found that he was 50 cents short.

That’s when Debbie Liskey, the manager, quickly turned to the bulletin board behind her. “Look, we can use one of these,” she said. She pulled off a “pay it forward” note, good for 2 slices, and handed it to him. When she said, “You’ll even get an extra slice,” the man started crying.

Inside Winter Garden Pizza Company. Image by Alicia E. Barrón.

Because of this notorious Pay it Forward board, Debbie sees these reactions all the time.

When they order, people can donate anything they’d like for whomever they feel could use it. On the board, there’s a free pizza for a veteran coupon, 6 free garlic knots for a pregnant lady, a coupon for a large cheese pizza for someone who has a rescue dog with them, and even a free slice for a girl with pigtails.

“I would say, mainly, it’s used for the less fortunate, the homeless,” Debbie says.

But anyone can use it. Debbie fondly talks about the homeless girl who visits her once a week, because she knows she can get a nice, hot meal thanks to the generous “pay it forward” notes.

The Winter Garden Pizza Company owners, Michael and Alison Scorsone, started the board two years ago.

They wanted to give back to the community, so the owners kicked off the bighearted board with six “coupons” of their own.

Debbie says it just kept going from there. Usually, when customers see the curiously generous Pay It Forward board, they ask about it. Then, some of them want to contribute, too. It’s contagious.  

The Pay It Forward board inside the pizzeria. Image by Alicia E. Barrón.

You never know when a simple act of generosity is coming your way, and this board is proof.

This pizzeria is offering a little bit of relief to people who might need it the most, but what’s even better is that this simple gesture has helped to build a tight-knit community.

“It warms my heart, it really does,” Debbie says. “Like for the homeless … that’s the ones that really get me, you know? When you can do something for those people.”

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