KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Hundreds of Disney cast members and families struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic received free meals on Friday after Disney bloggers raised thousands of dollars in a virtual food drive.
The Disney Tourist Blog teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to hold the virtual fundraiser. The food bank distributed the meals at the Rock Church in Kissimmee.
Volunteers filled families' cars with boxes and bags filled with the free meals. It is a familiar sight we’ve seen during the pandemic, but Erika Spence with Second Harvest said this food giveaway marked a major milestone for the food bank.
“When they started that virtual food drive earlier this month, they raised $61,000, which is the largest virtual food drive we’ve ever had at Second Harvest,” Spence said.
The blog launched the virtual food drive to help thousands of cast members who were furloughed or laid off. The bloggers raised $61,000 in weeks, which was enough money to fill two semi trucks with food to feed 500 families.
Second Harvest said they were not just helping cast members during this distribution, but anyone in the community who is struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.
Jose Hernandez was one of the families to receive the free meals.
“I’m actually unemployed right now. My wife is the one who is working so this is helping out a lot at our home,” Hernandez said.
Spence said donations for this virtual food drive came from all over the country.
“I think it just means that much more because people care about our community. People still love Disney and Universal and all of our theme parks and all of the great memories that they’ve had here and they know they want to come back once it’s safe to do so,” she said.
Since the pandemic began, Second Harvest said it has distributed 46 million meals. Spence said they don’t expect that to slow down anytime soon.
“We don’t really see an end right now. Until the economy begins coming along like the way it was before the pandemic, I think this is going to be normal,” Spence said.
Families said they are thankful for the meals and for the kind generosity from strangers.
“God places people in certain areas to be able to lead and when those minds are put together and be able to come up with an outcome like this, it’s tremendous for everyone,” Hernandez said.
Click here to donate to the Disney Tourist Blog virtual food drive.