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#NeighborhoodHeroes: Mario’s Italian Café donating thousands of meals during the pandemic

Mario’s Italian Café’s has seven locations and all of them have been giving back to the community since 1973. During the coronavirus pandemic, they have stepped up their help in the community.

Mario’s Italian Café is primarily run by Mario and his sons Peter and Mathew and other family members. They have given back to the community, charities, schools, etc. with the year of 2020 being no different. 

Mario said, “You give me somebody who really needs something, I am there.” He added, “God has made it possible for us to be able to do it and it’s our pleasure to do it.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, they have donated over 20,000 meals. They do this every Monday and have started something called Mario's Community Monday. Every Monday they work with organizations that help people experiencing homelessness, hunger, and other life challenges. These organizations include Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Street Life, and The Narrow Door.

Kristen Crawford, a kitchen assistant with Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, said, “Without that help it makes it harder for us to give back to the individuals in need.”

Mario and sons distributing meals at the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

On Monday November 16th, News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi followed Mario to the Coachella Valley Rescue mission where they handed out hot meals to those in need. The second stop was with The Narrow Door where they handed out hot meals to people living in a nearby trailer park. Mario said, “8-10 people live in a little travel trailer, half of them don’t get a hot meal.” Quenton Helms, a worker with The Narrow Door, said, “It would be great if more businesses did it as well. Mario is so great in reaching the community and doing his part.”

It's not just hot meals that Mario and his family are giving to the community, they also donated 105,000 surgical gloves to our local hospitals when they were most needed. Still, they are finding more ways to give back. Mario said, “Myself, The Narrow Door, and Street Life are putting something together now to get warm blankets, sweaters and things people need that can’t afford to buy them.” More information where you can help with this effort is found on Mario's Italian Cafe website.

Mario expressed the joy he feels when helping the community. He said, “What I get inside here, you can’t buy with every penny you make.”

News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi will have a highlight of these neighborhood heroes Thursday on KESQ News Channel 3.

Celebrating #NeighborhoodHeroes

While the coronavirus crisis is keeping us apart, we know the Coachella Valley community is still coming together to help each other. We are looking for those who are lending a hand during this uncertain time. Do you know of any everyday people who are going out of their way to help others? Have you seen someone find creative solutions to the new challenges we all face?

News Channel 3 wants to celebrate these neighborhood heroes. Tell us about them here. Enter HERE or email If you see good happening on social media, share it with us, and tag it #neighborhoodheroes for us to see.

We are all in this together. Help us showcase the good that's happening right here in the Coachella Valley.

Kaiser recommends that those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.

Health officials said anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of the virus and want to be seen at Eisenhower Health should call the hospital hotline first at 760-837-8988. Avoid the spread of this illness.
Residents with further questions can call 2-1-1 and 800–CDC –INFO (800 – 232 – 4636) with any questions.

Public health recommendations for all Riverside County residents during community spread:

Practice social distancing, which is remaining out of places where people meet or gather and avoid using public transportation, if possible.
Do not attend work, school or events when sick. Stay home.
Cough into your elbow or tissue.
Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
Stay away from anyone who is sick.

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.


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