From chicken parm to spaghetti, the handful of dedicated staff worked tirelessly to prepare roughly 400 meals.By Nicole Ford

MONESSEN, Pa. (KDKA) — As we count down to Christmas, more people are struggling this year than ever before, but some of those people are taking every opportunity to give back to the community when they can.

“We are just a small business, 35-seat restaurant, that is trying to give back something positive,” said Russell Johnson.

Johnson owns The Pasta Shoppe in downtown Monessen.

On Tuesday, he decided to open his doors for a pop-up kitchen to provide free meals to all healthcare workers, first responders and teachers.

“It’s a smile that will carry me further in life than making a dollar, granted financially with the restaurant industry this year, it’s not where I want to be, but it’s allowed me to do things to make my heart feel good,” Johnson said.

The idea started with a Facebook post that exploded outside the borders of the small town.

“The reach is unbelievable, the outpouring of support is unbelievable. We will have people call that just will say “thank you” and just hang up. It just feels good to give,” Johnson said.

From chicken parm to spaghetti, the handful of dedicated staff is working tirelessly to prepare roughly 400 meals.

“It’s a unity effort and that’s what we push for in our community,” Johnson said.

Johnson told KDKA the idea started with a donation to the restaurant and he went to his staff who told him they were doing okay and to use it to give back.