Local Pizzeria Helping Homeless Could Close Its Doors

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Derrick Walton's local pizzeria is more than a business or a way to make a living, it is his way of giving back to his community.

Walton, better known as "Chef D" of Rock Power Pizza, opened the small shop in January 2014. Walton says he opened the business after struggling with homelessness on the streets of Detroit, where he was given an opportunity to earn a living as a chef for a local restaurant.

Now living in Des Moines, Walton wants to give back and help those who are in the position he once was. Every Monday, Rock Power Pizza shuts down so the homeless and less fortunate in the metro can come in and get a bite to eat -- for free.

"They can get food, clothes, hygiene, food to take home for the next three or four days so they're not hungry," he said. "We have single moms and dads coming Tuesday through Saturday - that people don't know about - that's receiving these same things, so we're really doing it six days a week."

But the doors at Chef D's could close by the end of the month if he doesn't raise enough money to pay the bills and cover the costs of the program.

Though two appearances on "The Ellen Show" have earned Walton several checks to further his mission, the amount his program has grown versus what he makes at the restaurant does not even out. Walton says he doesn't have enough money to keep the doors open after January, so he and a group of volunteers are asking the public to pitch in.

"I can walk away - hurt - but with my head held high," he said. "But you see, it's not about me. It's going to affect hundreds and hundreds of people, and we don't know where that's going to take it. That's the part that really tears me up."

If you'd like to donate, check out Chef D's GoFundMe page. If you're interested in volunteering at Rock Power Pizza, contact Lizzie Gillman at lwalters023@hotmail.com.