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Aurelio’s Pizza volunteers team up with Shedd for beach cleanup

Joe Aurelio, president and CEO of Aurelio's Pizza, picks up recyclable waste along 12th Street Beach on Tuesday. | Virginia Barreda/For the Sun-Times

Longtime Aurelio’s Pizza customer Lisa Galullo and her son and daughter walked on 12th Street Beach on Tuesday, pausing every few seconds to pick up pieces of glass, empty beer cans and plastic bottles.

Galullo was one of 15 volunteers from Aurelio’s Pizza who teamed up with Shedd Aquarium for Great Lakes Action Day, an event held year-round dedicated to picking up debris along Lake Michigan and throughout the Chicago area.

“We live in the area, and this is a beach that we frequent and we love to see it kept clean,” Galullo said. “We also frequent the restaurant. Today is a great opportunity to support two great causes. The Shedd Aquarium is amazing, and Aurelio’s always tries to make sure that they are friendly to the environment.”

Aurelio’s has been supporting aquarium volunteers participating in the Great Lakes Action Day for nine years, but this is the first time with the Aurelio’s family came together to volunteer, according to Joe Aurelio, CEO of Aurelio’s Pizza.

“We’ve got everyone from customers, friends and workers,” Aurelio said. “It’s great to get our group together outside of work and have some fun and give back to the environment at the same time.”

“We are a family pizzeria and something we like to instill is giving back to the community,” he said. “Hopefully we set a good example for other business too.”

Shedd works at 10 sites along the lake as far north as Illinois Beach State Park and as far south as Indiana Dunes, according to Jackie Grom, Shedd’s stewardship specialist. The aquarium also works in the Cook County forest preserves, focusing on amphibian habitat restoration.

“Aurelio’s providing pizza for our volunteers is a huge asset to our events,” Grom said. “People love it, and it brings a fun community feeling to our efforts. The work that Aurelio’s will be doing today will not only improve the quality of the Great Lakes drinking water, but it also helps the wild life.”

Lisa Galullo and her children joined Aurelio’s Pizza for Great Lakes Action Day, a Shedd Aquarium event dedicated to keep the shores of Lake Michigan clean. | Virginia Barreda / For the Sun-Times
Lisa Galullo and her children joined Aurelio’s Pizza for Great Lakes Action Day, a Shedd Aquarium event dedicated to keep the shores of Lake Michigan clean. | Virginia Barreda / For the Sun-Times
Shedd stewardship specialist Jackie Grom explains the importance of keeping the Great Lakes clean to the Aurelio’s Pizza volunteers. |Virginia Barreda/ For the Sun-Times
Shedd stewardship specialist Jackie Grom explains the importance of keeping the Great Lakes clean to the Aurelio’s Pizza volunteers. |Virginia Barreda/ For the Sun-Times