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Good Neighbors: Serving WNY more than 'Just Pizza'

The owner of Just Pizza & Wing Co. in Amherst, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, has quietly given hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities

AMHERST, N.Y. — Mary Alloy has never liked being the center of attention. That's why most Western New Yorkers have no idea the owner of Just Pizza in Amherst has annually donated tens of thousands of dollars - in food and cash - over the past decade to to local charities close to her heart.

"I just can't say no," said Alloy, "because I feel that's why I'm here, just to help as much as I can." So humble and shy, it wasn't easy to get Alloy to agree to sit down for this interview to be featured in WGRZ's "Good Neighbor" series. But friends like Steve Szortyka convinced her. "Everybody needs to know about Mary," said Szortyka. "I think it's important that her story and her legacy and her vision and everything that evolves around Mary needs to be heard by the community."

Alloy, a mother of 4 and grandmother of 5, has owned Just Pizza on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst since 2007. Since then, her reach has gone far beyond her paying customers. "If you were to call and say, 'Hey, I have a fundraiser that I'm doing,' she'd say yes, without any questions," said Szortyka. "She probably donates more than she sells for profit through the restaurant, which is mind-boggling to me but it doesn't matter to her."

The charities she's helped include Make-A-Wish, Stone's Buddies at Oishei Children's Hospital, and Hospice. Alloy, an animal lover, has also given to the Buffalo Animal Shelter, Erie County SPCA, and the Niagara County SPCA, with whom she was in the national spotlight for attaching flyers of adoptable animals to every pizza box her restaurant served. "If you walk down those aisles of cages in the animal shelter and see those eyes that look at you and say help me, how can you not?" said Alloy. 

Now, many of the charities Alloy's helped are finding ways to say thank you.
In early December, doctors diagnosed Alloy with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, cancer with no cure. She says she will undergo 8 rounds of chemotherapy over the next 21 weeks, but ultimately doctors have given Alloy about a year to live. "I'm still going to be around for a lot of things this year to finish everything I have to do," she said.

Those things include working and giving away more to charity and making her kids promise they'll do the same when they take over the business.
"They'd better or I'll haunt them," Alloy laughed.

She said in the time she has left, she wants to continue not just serving food but also serving the community. "That's what makes me happy. That's what makes me want to live," she said. She's lived her life like she's served her pizza- sharing the slices, and savoring every bite. "Live each day to the fullest. That's my message. Don't waste a minute," said Alloy.

If you'd like to give to one of Alloy's favorite charities, you can stop in to Just Pizza in Amherst, and for as little as a dollar, buy a "Help A Shelter Pet" card which will hang on the wall this month. All donations will be given to the Niagara County SPCA. 

Friends have also established a GoFundMe account to help with Alloy's mounting medical bills. Click here for the Go Fund Me page.