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Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor is an American pizza parlor chain based in Bettendorf, Iowa. The restaurant chain was founded by “Happy Joe” Whitty and currently has 65 restaurants throughout the United States. In 1972, the year he opened his first restaurant, Happy Joe made a vow that he would give back every year to the community that made his dream a reality. After the first restaurant had been open only a month, Joe started a tradition that continues today of closing down the pizza parlor for a day to throw a holiday party for special needs children. Happy Joe’s has been having special needs parties for 43 years and has hosted over 150,000 children with special needs at parties throughout their chain. Last year, at just one of Happy Joe’s annual holiday parties, the iWireless Center in the Quad Cities welcomed over a thousand children during the course of a two day event.
Community involvement is one of Happy Joe’s most important core values. Joe says, “Business has always been so good to me that I want to do things for people.” In 2012, Happy Joe Whitty and his family started Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation, a non-profit organization with the intent to help kids with special needs children across America. The goal of the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation is to make a difference in the lives of individuals with special needs. The Foundation has done work through numerous charitable organizations including the Handicapped Development Center, Hand in Hand, Children’s Therapy Center, The Arc of the Quad Cities Area, and The Make-A- Wish Foundation. These organizations help those with special needs – whether those needs might be developmental, income-related or education-based.
Happy Joe’s Foundation makes it easy for their donors to give to their organization. Happy Joe’s uses “Text-to- Donate” campaigns which allow their donors to give anywhere, anytime through text messaging on their mobile phones. The foundation promotes text giving on its website, social media outlets and it has printed the Text2Donate info (Text “HJKids” to 76959) on all of their restaurant place mats, capturing potential donors eating at their chain. Because most of their patrons own mobile phones and have their phones with them, their donors can easily give while they are eating at the restaurant when the foundation is at the forefront of their minds instead of having to wait to be at a computer for online giving.
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