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'It's a time to give back': Local restaurant paying it forward by feeding families in need

'A labor of love': Fuego Latino owner Gerson Pinzon says he treats those families as if they were his own - preparing different warm meals for them every day.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — While the COVID-19 pandemic is restricting what we're all able to do, it isn't putting a stop to generosity. The tough times have inspired employees at one Lancaster County restaurant to feed as many families as they can.

Gerson Pinzon is on a mission.

“I do it just because I have to,” said Pinzon. “I felt like I needed to take action.”

Pinzon does not just own Fuego Latino restaurant in Elizabethtown, he calls the community home.

“They support me,” explained Pinzon. “They supported my business, and this is not a time to be greedy. It’s a time go give back.”

His passion for cooking tasty food is now also a labor of love.

“Gerson is helping to provide meals for families who are at this point in difficult situations,” explained Laurie Sheppler, executive director of Cornerstone Community Ministries. 

Fuego Latino is feeding multiple families associated with Cornerstone or whoever could just use an extra hand. Employees prepare different latino dishes for them every day.

“I treat like this as if I am feeding my family,” said Gerson. “We try to add a starch. We try to add a protein - some sort of vegetable in there.”

Gerson says he doesn’t want to know who he’s helping.

“I just say, ‘hey, how many families are we feeding today?’ and the need is great,” explained Gerson.

He says it’s just important that he does. A donation of $25 helps feed a family of four, but Gerson says any amount can make a difference.

“It’s been a great partnership working with Gerson,” said Sheppler with a smile. “I have always been a customer, but now, I am an even bigger fan as I know how big his heart is for people in the community.”

Friday afternoon, multiple customers walked up to the business and donated money so others could have a warm meal. Gerson says it exemplifies his message - ‘be faithful in the little things.’ 

“I am blessed with what I have so far, and the little bit I have, I am going to be faithful and pay it forward, and I think it resonates with a lot of people, that they’re going to be able to say ‘I have 10, but I am going to donate 1, and that is going to make a difference to somebody,” added Gerson.

It’s a good deed that Sheppler says is not going unnoticed.

“It comes back to you in very big ways, and you get to know your community better through times like this,” she said.