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Donati's Takes Lead in Giving Back

Jeff Urso doesn’t need a lot of sleep. Or if he does, he’s getting by fine without it. Urso has been working ‘round the clock since the state lock-in on March 21 to do everything he can for other small business owners in Lake Bluff, as well as for healthcare workers and our neighbors who need a little help getting food on the table.

And he’s doing it all while running his own small business, Donati’s Pizza, which is involved in so many helpful endeavors that customers have started asking how they can help Donati’s help others.

When you ask Urso why he’s doing so much, he says simply: “Because I love this town.” He and his wife, Kamila Urso, grew up here, graduated from Lake Forest High School, and are raising three sons in the community. For their 10-year anniversary in 2016 the couple got remarried on the high school’s front lawn (how cute is that?)

Jeff Urso, right, with his eldest son A.J., age 14

“My mom raised me here. And this town has really helped me become the person I am. And you know, it’s my generation’s turn to step up and do what we can. It’s important our kids see their parents’ generation doing everything we can to help – especially in a time like this.”

Here are some of the programs Jeff and Donati’s are spearheading or helping out with:

Special Deliveries:

Donati’s is delivering craft beer for Lake Bluff Brewing Company and frozen yogurt for Suzy’s Swirl – at no charge to the businesses. Donati’s also is doing some delivery for Forest Greens Juice. (Want to help these small businesses? Order from them today!)

Helping People:

Donati’s is providing temporary space for the Phoenix Rising food pantry during the COVID-19 shut-in. Shields Township, Phoenix Rising and Donati’s have a "contactless” table set up on the sidewalk in front of Donati’s pizza shop at 205 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Bluff. On the table are bags of non-perishable groceries that Donati's purchased at wholesale prices, including cereal, rice, tortilla shells, and cans of fruit, vegetables and beans, etc. The groceries are packed in bags donated by U-Line. The team has created vouchers for people in need of a bit of help, such as families whose children participate in the school lunch program at School District 65 (which includes Lake Bluff Elementary School and Lake Bluff Middle School). The food pick-up is open 10 am to 4 pm and will continue at Donati’s until the stay-at-home order is lifted. Any leftover food or funds will be given to Phoenix Rising.

Also: On Easter Urso and his staff at Donati’s cooked dinners including ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad for seniors in the community who don’t have family nearby.

But that’s not all! Donati's also is:

Helping the Helpers

This week Donati’s launched “Buy One, They Get One”. When customers buy an extra-large pizza on the Two-For special day, Donati’s donates a free one to a healthcare facility. This week the pizza promo brought in enough to donate 54 pizzas to feed 250 workers at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. The next special will go to another healthcare facility in the area. Urso will announce it the day prior to each promotion.

Donati’s also is helping with a new project called Heroes Helping Heroes that is being spearheaded by Deb Fischer of Lake Bluff. “Customers call in to Donati's any amount via credit card, we in turn increase it by 50% and transfer that amount via virtual gift card to the people who order food for the hospital,” said Urso.

How can you help? For starters, you can order pizza from Donati’s, beer from Lake Bluff Brewing Company, frozen yogurt from Suzy’s Swirl, and/or healthy smoothies from Forest Greens Juice. Or purchase gift certificates from them.

Contact the Phoenix Rising Pantry to see what you can do: PhoenixRisingFdn@gmail.com or (847) 579-9739.

You can help Donati's raise money for Heroes Helping Heroes by calling Donati’s at (847) 735-8900. To donate directly to HHH and/or learn more about the program click here.