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Off The Block Holiday Gift Boxes of pizza and salsa raise money for Mentoring Positives kids


This holiday season, Mentoring Positives is raising money for their organization and raising awareness about what they do with Off The Block Holiday Gift Boxes full of pizza and salsa.

“When people buy our holiday boxes, it’s really just a win-win situation because you get a great product and when we are able to make pizzas, we able to give kids work hours,”  Will Green, executive director of Mentoring Positives Inc., tells Madison365. “When people purchase our products, it really is just giving the kids an opportunity to get more hours and work because we eventually want to grow our Off the Block program to the point where we can self-sufficiently pay for staff and kids to be in the space and doing the good work that we do. So. It really is a win-win situation.”

Mentoring Positives Inc. is a Darbo-Worthington Neighborhood organization that supports African-American youth through a variety of programming that creates a family atmosphere and engages youth in community building. The non-profit organization created Off the Block as a platform to help youth build skills and confidence and so far it has been a success in not only doing that but in raising money for the young people. MP has been making salsa since 2009 and pizza since 2015.

Community members can purchase both Off The Block Pizza and Off The Block Salsa in holiday boxes that are prepared by Mentoring Positives youth at the Off The Block Store.

“We did it last year and we had a good amount of holiday gift boxes go out. They come in these nice light white little boxes with red ribbons on them,” Green says. “We’ve got pizza and salsa combos if you want it. You basically can just go to our Off The Block online store and you can order there and you can order a combination of different gift boxes.”

Right now, you can get 10 percent off when you order online.

“People like to get the Off The Block Salsas and Off The Block Pizzas that we have  — which are a variety of vegetarian and meat pizzas — and just share that with family and friends over the holidays,” Green says.

There are a wide variety of pizzas available including vegetarian options — veggie Italian, veggie pepperoni and veggie sunrise.  The salsa is made with fresh vegetables.

“I love the mild salsa – our salsas are top-notch,” Green says. “You know, once people get that on their palate, they’re like ‘whoaaa.’ They really love it. But the pizzas are great, too. Personally, I’m a meat person. I love our sausage pizza. We’ve got a number of pizzas that are great – our Red Pepper MP Classic is a top-notch pizza, too.

Mentoring Positives youth make Off the Block pizza at the FEED Kitchen.

“And we’ve got a new crust. We were making our own crust, but now we found a local crust that we really love. People definitely will taste a difference in our pizzas.”

Mentoring Positives youth make the pizzas and salsa every week at FEED Kitchens on Sherman Avenue on Madison’s North Side, but they are so close, Green says, to getting the keys to their new space and beginning operations in their brand-new building with its new commercial kitchen and mentoring space at Ella Apartments on Madison’s near east side. 

“We’re going to call that Muriel’s Place after my mom. We should be in that space within the next week,” Green says. “We got some training there tomorrow. So I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to tell people we are slightly open … maybe a soft opening before the new year just because of Christmas and New Year’s. We are looking forward to really opening up the space come early next year.”

Mentoring Positives’ new home is located at 2844 E Washington Ave. They still have a ways to go in fundraising and preparing to open for business.

“We’re getting some equipment in there already .. a lot of the donations from a lot of different donors in the community already,” Green says. “We’ve been able to raise about $83,000 of the $150,000 that we wanted to raise. We need about $70,000 … that would really be my ultimate goal to have everything in there and have a really nice opening.

Mentoring Positives’ new home at Ella’s Apartments




“I’m looking forward to the young people being able to make pizzas at the new place. When we are at East Wash[ington Ave.] right there with all the glass, the whole community will be able to see these kids at work and people are going to be really amazed at how efficient these kids are making pizza,” Green adds. “So we’re just looking forward to getting more kids involved and engaged in the community more.”

A holiday gift box purchase will not only put more Mentoring Positives kids to work but it will boost their year-end sales. Orders will be ready for pick up on Dec. 19 and 20, 3-6 p.m. at FEED Kitchen.

“We normally take two days from about 3-6 p.m. where people can come to the FEED kitchen and we will have their gift boxes wrapped up for them. So we made it around that time because so many kids will be out of school and some of them will be able to be there to help gift wrap up boxes and give out boxes to the people when they come to pick them up.”  

Gift boxes can be ordered at the Off the Block Store website.