A pair of New Jersey brothers whose pizza-tossing talents have propelled them to viral super-stardom are now using their platform to help feed the hungry, one slice of pizza at a time.
Meet Michael and Nicholas Testa, known as the “Jersey Pizza Boys,” whose dough-spinning skills have garnered over 100 million combined views on YouTube.
At 11 and 13, the brothers are already pizza-industry veterans, having helped out at their family's Jersey City pizzeria, Carmine's Pizza Factory, for years.
“We’ve been flipping pizza dough for six years,” Nicholas, 11, told ABC News. “My sister has autism, and she used to be cranky as a baby, so my Dad always gave my mom a break by taking us to the pizzeria.
“We were throwing pizza dough back and forth, and that’s how we learned,” he added.
Carmine Testa, the boys' father, said before they emerged as dough-tossing prodigies, "it was like two boys playing the Italian version of baseball, instead of with a baseball, with the pizza dough."
Michael, 13, told ABC News that they were inspired to use their platform to help feed those in need after they participated in a local effort to help feed their homeless neighbors, and started to think bigger.
"Pizza Across America is about feeding homeless people across the country," Michael told ABC News of the campaign that launches today, and coordinates large-scale deliveries from local pizzerias to food banks, shelters and soup kitchens in their area.
Michael said that last year he and his family, along with a few other local pizzerias, brought a bus full of pies into New York City, where the boys helped to distribute slices to homeless populations in the area.
Michael added that he and his brother even tossed dough and put on a show for some of the homeless people, and they were inspired by the reaction they received.
“On the car ride back we were like, 'Wouldn’t it be amazing to do that across the country?'” Michael said. “So we’re trying to do that, and we teamed up with Slice, and Slice Out Hunger, to feed thousands.”
Slice, an online platform that lets people order from local pizzerias, is supporting the campaign by tapping into its network of over 8,000 pizza shops across the country. Each pizzeria that takes part in the campaign has pledged to donate a minimum of 10 pizzas to a local food bank, shelter or soup kitchen.
Scott Wiener, the founder of Slice Out Hunger, a nonprofit group that is aiding in the logistics of the campaign, has dubbed the project "the largest charitable delivery campaign ever to take place in the history of pizza," in a statement announcing its launch.
Their effort comes at a time when approximately 41 million Americans -– including 13 million children and over 5 million senior citizens –- struggle to afford enough to eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Diane Testa, the boys’ mother, told ABC News that her sons have always had a heart for helping those in need.
“They’re always up to help,” Diane Testa said. “They want to help people in need, they want to help their friends; animals always end up at my house.”
She adds that they also witness firsthand how hunger impacts their community when people come into the pizzeria desperate for something to eat.
"They learn what they see ... and they’ve been in this pizzeria for a long time," Diane Testa said. "If there’s kids that come in here, and they're short on money, I can’t turn them away, I’m like, 'Don’t worry about it, next time, don’t worry about it.'
“We hope that they continue in this journey of giving back,” she added.
Nicholas told ABC News that when he grows up he hopes to become “a pizza chef.”
Michael said he’s still deciding on his career path, but he hopes to at least start out in the family business.
“I want to start out as my first job over here," he said.
A list of pizzerias across the country participating in the campaign and more information about how to help is available on Slice Out Hunger's website.