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Sometimes a pizza with “Attitude” is just the right choice when hunger sets in.

At Spoleto’s Pizzeria and Wine Shop in Sweet Home, if you make that choice you get more than a tasty pizza. You can also leave feeling a little better about your community.

That’s because Christine Nyberg, manager at Spoleto’s, came up with an idea that benefits everyone. Nyberg and owner Karen Newberg donate $5 from every pizza served from their Community Acts of Kindness Menu (AOK) to a local charity. There are 11 pizzas in the lineup, right on the first page of the menu.

Newberg has owned Spoleto’s for three years, and launched the AOK menu in August 2011 with “The Attitude,” a pepperoni pizza with marinara and minced garlic on a parmesan crust. A special touch is a smiley face made from extra pepperoni.

The AOK menu “was Christine’s brainchild,” Newberg said. “We talked about it and there was no way we couldn’t do it.”

Seeing nonprofits struggling, Nyberg thought that instead of doling out small donations each month, Spoleto’s could do something more permanent.

“Some of our best customers were nonprofits, especially the people at Camp Attitude,” Nyberg said. “We called them first and they didn’t hesitate.”

“Spoleto’s asked if some of our students would want to get involved,” said Louie Kazemier of Camp Attitude, a summer camp in east Linn County for disabled youth. “We sent over three boys who worked in our kitchen and one of our head chefs and they created it.”

The boys — Ben Richert, Nate Kazemier and Lucas Geiger — collaborated with the Spoleto’s team and the program was born.

It was an immediate hit. Soon other charitable organizations were coming on board. Each worked with Spoleto’s pizza chefs to create unique recipes.

“Our team loved working with them,” Nyberg said. “We have a lot of creative people. They all had basic ideas of what they wanted.”

Each nonprofit is connected to Sweet Home. That is one of the criteria for getting on the menu.

“They have to provide services that benefit the city,” Nyberg said.

Customers can choose from “The Sunshine” by Sunshine Industries, or “The SafeHaven Supreme,” one of two pies that helps the humane society. “The Hawg,” loaded with four different meats, was created by Sweet Home Choppers with donations assisting victims of domestic violence through the Hope Center. “The Good and Crusty,” a vegetarian pizza, benefits Meals On Wheels.

Other nonprofits getting a boost from the menu include the Sweet Home Community Foundation and Care Packages for Troops.

Spoleto’s,  located at 4804 Highway 20 on the east end of Sweet Home, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  AOK menu orders to go are available by calling 541-367-4001.  Information is also online at www.spoletospizzeria.com.

The entire menu is inspired by employees and customers. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and pizza crusts are made from scratch on site.

Newberg said Aileen Hastings of Sublime Creative Agency designed the AOK menu and donated her efforts and the printing.

Word is spreading. Two menu items were added this summer and Spoleto’s is currently working to add the Sweet Home Gleaners.

Newberg said Spoleto’s has donated more than $2,000 to the combined charities since it inaugurated AOK.

“It’s really rewarding. The community has come through and supported us,” Newberg said.

Kazemier said that he believes his organization has gained more than $500 in donations from the program.

“I know we get a check almost every month,” he said.  “They (Spoleto’s) are phenomenal people.”

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Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at steve.lathrop@lee.net.

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