A couple who run a major Disney theme park fan site were so moved by the impending layoffs of the company’s employees that they’ve raised more than $40,000 for a central Florida food bank.
Sarah and Tom Bricker have forged many memories over the years at Disney parks, and since 2011 they’ve given back by dispensing advice to fellow tourists via their website, Disney Tourist Blog.
Since the coronavirus shut down their beloved amusement parks — some of which have since opened — and crippled the state’s hospitality industry, the pair have been keeping fellow fans apprised of the course of events.
When Disney announced last week it would be laying off 28,000 theme park employees due to the pandemic economic impacts, the Brickers sprang into action, launching a fundraiser for Second Harvest.
FILE – Volunteers distribute boxes of food from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to the needy during a drive through event at City of Destiny church in July.
“Layoffs and indefinite furloughs at Walt Disney World, other theme parks, and throughout the hospitality industry have had a disproportionate impact on Central Florida,” they wrote on their blog. “At this point, so many have been negatively impacted in some way — either directly or via family and friends who have lost their employment and are nervous about what the future holds. It’s nothing short of heartbreaking.”
Decrying miles-long food bank lines and the dipping fortunes of low-wage service industry workers, they asked those who had the means to think about supporting those who are struggling.
“Please join us in helping to give back to those who have made so much magic for us all over the years,” the Brickers wrote.
The plea worked. By late Sunday, they had raised more than $43,000 — just a few days after initially shooting for $2,000. And the drive was still going strong.
While they did not earmark the funds specifically for Disney workers — “we wouldn’t want to exclude anyone,” Tom Bricker told CNN — they knew the help would go where it’s needed.
They also gave a shout-out to Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County, California, home of Disneyland, given that’s where park officials donated excess food when the park was forced to close. The California parks remain closed, while Florida’s have reopened.
“We were definitely humbled and heartened to see the generous support the people of the internet,” Sarah Bricker told CNN. “But ultimately, you know, we realized that this is just a really small thing that we started and doesn’t compensate for the overall hardship.”