Iannelli’s and friends, a generous Secret Santa

One of South Philadelphia’s historic bakeries is cooking for a cause this holiday season.

Iannelli’s Brick Oven Bakery at 1155 E. Passyunk Ave. is presenting one local family a check for $1,000, which was raised from cooking classes at the bakery.

“Every holiday season I like to try to give back in a ‘Secret Santa-like way’ to strangers, and this was the first time someone actually looked into who helped them,” said owner Vince Iannelli. “The people who I purchased lunch for happened to be having a very bad day, as the husband has dementia and Parkinson’s, and they were coming from the doctor and were having a really hard time. They did some research after I paid their check, found me, and sent me an email saying that I turned a really bad day into a really nice day, and that there was no amount of money you could put into that. That really touched me, and I decided I wanted to help more people. It’s been a really rough couple of years for so many people, and we should all be helping those less fortunate anytime we can.”

Iannelli’s, known for its famous tomato pie and gravy shop, opened in South Philly in 1910. It recently launched a Secret Santa’s Cooking for a Cause — an initiative that will give back to one deserving family who may be struggling this holiday season. It includes the $1,000 donation from Iannelli’s, a Di Bruno Bros. gift basket, free Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes, heater service to stay warm this winter, an Esposito’s Porchetta dinner package for New Year’s Eve and a variety of gift cards.

Donations were provided by Blade and Badger Barbershop, John’s Water Ice, Esposito’s Porchetta, Di Bruno Bros., Balance MMA, SneakPeak, Homemade by Bruno, The Lone Bruncher, Casa Vida and Callahan HVAC.

“I couldn’t have done this without my little elves – our sponsors – and each and every person who is donating their time, services and products to help make this possible,” said Iannelli.