By Jan Carabeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The annual Wawa Hoagie Day is back but with a different look this year. Typically, crowds turn out to help create a multi-ton hoagie, but the pandemic has forced changes to this year’s 28th event.

Eyewitness News was at 6th and Chestnut where a ceremonial hoagie build took place, Wednesday.

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“With the utmost precaution in place. As you look around, you see gloves, masks, Plexiglas everywhere. Cleaning everything. A little different but incredibly safe for our customers and associates,” Wawa Executive VP and COO Cathy Pulof said.

Instead of the big team build on Independence Mall, as in years past, to limit crowd size, Wawa decided to go with small and socially distant teams this year. They’re not only focusing on Philly but also incorporating all 900-plus stores across six states and Washington, D.C. for the first time.

“Every store is making 50 hoagies to donate to the charity of their choice,” Pulof said.

All together, that’s 13 tons in hoagies.

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Locally, lunches are headed to Philly’s Police Athletic League centers, veterans in need, and more.

By the end of the day, Philabundance will roll away with 4,500 bagged lunches. And that couldn’t come at a better time with the organization dealing with a steep increase in need.

“We’ve seen about a 60% increase in need across the region. And so, food like this is going to an agency right now. So, that food is going to help somebody today,” Samantha Retamar with Philabundance said.

The day is different in appearance only. The intent and impact remain the same.

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