Central Florida is home to theme parks, entertainment venues, convention and meeting spaces and the kinds of places where family memories are made. It is heartbreaking to watch as parking lots stand empty and lights remain dark during the pandemic. Even worse, it is devastating to hear from thousands of our neighbors as they experience furloughs, job losses and business closures. Through no fault of their own, they now pile into their cars and wait for hours to receive groceries at a drive-thru food pantry, something they never imagined they would need to do.
There is a glimmer of hope. After watching these scenes unfold in their community, Tom and Sarah Bricker of The Disney Tourist Blog took action. They set up a Virtual Food Drive, a simple online platform that helps co-workers, friends, families, school groups, churches – and even blog readers – work toward a goal of raising funds to provide meals for people experiencing hunger.
“There has been a devastating and lasting impact on those who work in the travel and tourism industries,” Tom and Sarah wrote in their initial appeal. “We are strongly encouraging those of you who have the means to give back by donating to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.”
Within 24 hours, fans and readers opened their hearts and wallets and mobilized a $25,000 response to help provide 100,000 meals. Many donors shared that so many people in Orlando had brought joy and magic into their lives and they simply wanted to return the favor. As of today, the Disney Tourist Blog Virtual Food Drive has raised over $69,000 and continues to climb. Every one of those dollars provides four meals for a furloughed worker, child, or senior in need.
Two mobile food distributions were held this fall to provide hope to workers and their families. The first was held in Kissimmee, in the heart of Osceola County’s tourist district. Cars snaked through the parking lot at The Rock Church where volunteers placed a variety of groceries into the trunks of cars and truck beds. In all, 749 families received enough food to provide 33,815 meals.
Jennifer was among the first in line. She and her husband were laid off after the pandemic and rely on food donations to feed their family of six, including her grandmother who lives with them.
“I know everything’s going to get back to normal eventually, we just have to hang on,” Jennifer said.
A second distribution was held just before the holidays in Orange County in partnership with Good Samaritan Outreach. The event provided 47,747 meals to 803 households in a matter of hours. Tom and Sarah volunteered at the event and recorded a special video for you to thank you and show you the food distribution in action.
Thanks to you, thousands of people in our community have food to eat. Thank you for caring.
Join the Disney Tourist Blog Virtual Food Drive.
Every dollar donated provides 4 meals.