Today I want to take a moment and tell you about actions the theme parks and Cast Members have taken, actions that have touched my heart.
In March, Emily Lartigue, a Disney Cast Member since 2013, started collecting food donations for fellow Cast Members in need. The response she got was so positive that she soon was able to coordinate a food pantry for fellow furloughed Cast Members amid the current Covid-19 pandemic. Cast Members can visit the Cast Members Pantry three days a week, by appointment. They need to prove their current status with the company and wear a mask and, if they have them, gloves.
As of May 9th, the pantry offers a FASTPASS pickup. Cast Members can register for a time slot to come pick up already packed groceries. Each bag comes with a Publix gift card for additional shopping needs.
Dedicated Cast Members also continue to maintain the resorts, and the Animal Care team continues to look after the on-site animal population. A big thank you and congratulations to Veterinary Hospital Manager Shelley, who played an important role in the safe birth of a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine. The little critter was even named Shelley to thank her for her good care.
The baby zebra born in March made his first appearance in the Savannah this month. The baby was named Asha, which means “hope” in Sanskrit and “life” in Swahili. The name was chosen by Walt Disney World Cast Members, who had a chance to vote on potential names.
We all missed out on Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival, but the flowers are still there, including those that were to adorn the hotels and restaurants over Easter and beyond. Michelle Giger Rohrmann, who manages the nursery where the Easter lilies grow, came up with a great initiative when she suggested that Disney gift the flowers to the Osceola Council on Aging. Next, 200 local seniors received a special surprise with their Meals on Wheels delivery—Easter lilies donated by Walt Disney World.
Jessica Harned, supervisor of advanced resort technology in the parks technology department at Universal Orlando Resort, suggested to her superior that Universal print 3D face-shields to donate to local medical facilities.
I also want to give a shout out to the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark. The factory, instead of producing toys, is producing 13,000 face shields a day for medical workers on the front lines in Denmark. We are all in this together!
Disney Parks has donated 150,000 rain ponchos to MedShare, a humanitarian aid organization, for distribution to hospitals in need. Disney Parks also donated more than 100,000 N95 masks to the states of New York, California, and Florida.
Fans went crazy when Disney announced themed reusable cloth face masks, which are now available for pre-order on shopDisney.com. Disney is donating 1 million cloth face masks for children and families in under-served and vulnerable communities across the U.S., including in California and Florida, that will be distributed by MedShare. Disney will also donate all profits from the sales in the U.S. of Disney’s cloth face masks to Medshare, up to $1 million, now through September 30, 2020.
I know that there are many more acts of kindness out there, but I hope you are inspired by the few that I have highlighted today.
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Liliane Opsomer is the coauthor of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids and a freelance writer.
She is passionate about travel, Disney, fairies, hobbits and all things magical. Some of her favorite destinations are Orlando, Anaheim, Middle Earth, Belgium, Sydney, Dresden, Patagonia and Hawaii. Liliane lives in Birmingham, Alabama and visits the parks several times a year.