WINDERMERE, Fla. – With Disney World coming to a halt due to COVID-19, an employee took it upon herself to help fellow cast members in need by creating a pantry.
Emily Lartigue is among the thousands of Disney employees who have been furloughed, but she isn’t letting the coronavirus pandemic keep her from spreading some magic.
“To be able to give back to them and to help out our fellow cast is really special,” said Lartigue, who has been collecting food since March.
The outpouring of support has filled a storage unit with nonperishable foods, including canned vegetables and snacks.
“It really does give you chill bumps, you know? People have shown us an outpouring of donations, monetary donations, we hit $2,000 yesterday,” she said.
Cast members who have been furloughed can go to the storage unit and choose the food items they need, including toiletries like toothpaste, soap and shampoo.
But before visiting the Pantry, she requests that cast members make an appointment -- and to adhere to CDC guidelines. Only two people are allowed inside at the same time.
“We are requiring appointments to be made. If you have a mask, if you have gloves, please wear them when you come,” she said.
For Lartigue, who has worked at Disney since 2013 and was also furloughed, it’s about kindness and compassion. She said she wants her fellow cast members to know it’s OK to ask for help.
“Please don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Know that you are definitely not the only one out there who needs some help right now and that’s why we’re here, that’s why we were created, and you have fellow cast members that are going to have your back and we’re here to support you," she said.
The Cast Member Pantry is in need of items typically used for breakfast, including cereal, oatmeal, snack bars, along with pasta and pasta sauce.
Hours for pickup are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.