Sometimes, the online community Reddit can be a scary place, home to disturbing or just downright bizarre ideas, conversations and photos. But other times, it can be a wonderful place where well-intentioned people rally around a good cause and mobilize to do something positive.
In this case, a photo that went viral on the social news site led to a flood of pizza deliveries sent to two-year-old cancer patient Hazel Hammersley. She’s been undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and last week, her mother Lauren and grandmother Linda used medical tape to write “SEND PIZZA RM 4112″ on the room’s window.
“We had been here since July 4th and are always trying to think of ways to pass the time for a two-year-old, since you begin to get a little stir crazy,” Lauren told Yahoo. “We didn’t think we’d actually get any pizzas!”
Enter Reddit. Someone snapped a photo of the sign and posted it on one of the site’s boards — and though some users simply found it funny, others took it as an opportunity to pick up the phone and actually send a pizza. Yahoo reports that Hazel received well over 20 pizzas, and eventually, the hospital had to post an announcement kindly asking these generous Redditors to cease and desist. Hazel’s family soon invited the other patients, along with their parents and nurses, to an impromptu pizza party.
In April, Hazel was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma tumor in her abdomen, and her mother soon began blogging to keep friends and family in the loop about Hazel’s journey. On the blog post about the recent pizza party, she wrote that she and her family “can only hope and pray that this brings awareness to Neuroblastoma and the Childhood Cancer Community. Awareness and funding is severely lacking, and to help get better treatments and outcomes for our children, we need all the support we can get!”
This certainly isn’t the first random act of kindness sparked by Reddit, a site whose general manager, Erik Martin, was included in the 2012 TIME 100. In May, Reddit users helped a WWII veteran restore his old Navy photo. Last year, users sent letters, art supplies, DVDs and more to a man who was terminally ill with liver cancer. And of course, last year there were the users who banded together to raise money and send support to bullied bus monitor Karen Klein.
This latest outpouring of support — in the form of heartfelt slices — reminds us just how positive Reddit’s influence can be.