Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

‘The Best of Austin’: Collier donates pizza amid winter freeze

Charli Gives Back
Courtesy of Charli Collier

Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Daily Texan's February 26 print edition.

Austin’s citizens are usually prepared for record-high heat waves, but for one week, the city was overtaken by a chilling winter storm that desolated the area.

With temperatures plunging into the twenties and roads iced over for miles, some students at the University of Texas were forced to live without running water or electricity. The Drag, which separates the inner portion of UT and its residential West Campus, was lined with college kids for food from the one of the few restaurants that was open: Roppolo’s Pizzeria.

Marc Roppolo, who has owned the store since November 1989, said he had never seen his shop swarmed like it was during the storm on Feb. 18.

“We couldn’t answer the phone at all,” Roppolo said. “We had a line past the Moxy Hotel, and kids were waiting in 25-degree weather.”

Charli Collier, a junior center for the Texas women’s basketball team and the projected No. 1 pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, walked past her fellow students to pick up food for her teammates. When Collier got into the store to get the pizza she had ordered, she flagged down Roppolo. 

“She just arbitrarily decided out of nowhere to donate 50 personal pizzas to students,” Roppolo said. “She thanked me, and then she texted me about an hour later, once again thanking me, and I just thanked her. I said, ‘What you’re doing is fantastic.’”

After being stuck in Waco overnight following a Feb. 14 game against Baylor, Collier was holed up in her dorm room with her roommates as Wednesday night’s game against TCU was postponed.

Instead of deciding to ignore the line of students, Collier chose to help them out in a time of need.

“I saw everybody in line, and I was like, ‘I want to do something good. Maybe they are going to be closed after we come in and not everybody is going to get a pizza. I just want to buy 50 pizzas,’” Collier said.

Collier was one of a number of students, alumni and professors to help out the Austin community during the winter freeze. 

“Blessings come to you when you do nice to people,” Collier said. “I just want to spread that. Just be nice, especially in these times.”

Michael Huff, a former Texas defensive back and 2005 All-American, prepaid for 1,000 tacos at Austin staple Juan in a Million on the same day as Collier’s generous act at Roppolo’s.

After playing in the NFL for eight years, Huff acquired the means to continue prepaying for food at restaurants in the surrounding Austin area and his hometown of Irving, Texas throughout the week.

However, Collier’s position as a student-athlete makes her contribution all the more remarkable, Huff said.

“I feel like that has more of an impact than what I’m doing now,” Huff said. “Obviously she’s in college trying to get her degree, trying to play ball and be successful and figure out where her path is going to be in life. At this point my path has kind of been written … So for her to be that young and doing all of this while still going through everything I went through, my hat’s off to her.”

Collier’s act of kindness was a symbol of light in an otherwise tumultuous week.

“Someone like Charli (Collier) shows the best of Austin,” Roppolo said. “When she walked into Roppolo’s… and saw all these students waiting in line, immediately, the best of who she is came out. She said, ‘Let me buy for these kids. Let me do what I can to help.’”

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‘The Best of Austin’: Collier donates pizza amid winter freeze