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While the American Red Cross continues supporting two large-scale relief and recovery responses for communities reeling from the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, two new hurricanes – Jose and Maria – are posing a threat to the Caribbean and the U.S. East Coast and residents still trying to recover from Hurricane Irma.

A gift to Disaster Relief helps the Red Cross and its volunteers to provide the much needed help and hope – preparedness, response and recovery in times of disaster.

HURRICANE IRMA RELIEF

Irma ravaged much of Florida’s 65,755 square miles. Over a week after landfall, the American Red Cross is part of a large team of partners who have launched a massive relief response to provide safe shelter, food and comfort to people who have been affected by Hurricane Irma.

Red Cross workers are providing food, shelter, health services and emotional support. Red Cross vehicles are fanning out in affected neighborhoods, delivering meals and relief supplies to people cleaning up their homes. Caseworkers are meeting with people still in shelters to help get some normalcy back in their lives by identifying their needs and connecting them to services and resources to help begin their recovery. Workers continue to expand into more communities each day to provide meals and relief supplies.

On Sunday night, almost 3,600 people were provided refuge from Hurricane Irma with 3,000 Red Cross workers in 55 government and Red Cross evacuation shelters across Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This includes:

• In Florida, more than 3,200 people in 47 evacuation shelters;

• In Puerto Rico, more than 182 people in three evacuation shelters; and

• To date, evacuation centers have provided more than half a million (541,000) overnight stays to people needing a safe place to go.

• Along with our partners, served more than 747,000 meals and snacks across six states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

• Distributed more than 88,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits.

• Mental health and health services professionals have provided more than 16,000 contacts to provide support and care to those affected.

• More than 120 emergency response vehicles have been activated to help.

HURRICANE HARVEY

It’s been more than three weeks since Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, and the American Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, relief supplies and more to people in need. Red Cross response vehicles and volunteers are fanning out across neighborhoods to distribute nutritious meals and relief supplies, such as diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items. Red Cross disaster workers are also providing health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care to people affected by this devastating storm.

Overnight, more than 4,600 people sought refuge in 25 Red Cross and partner shelters across Texas and Louisiana. To date, there have been nearly 394,000 overnight shelter stays for Hurricane Harvey.

More than 3,500 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in Texas. Together, they have helped more than 365,000 people and:

• Along with our partners, served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks in Texas and Louisiana;

• Activated more than 170 emergency response vehicles to help deliver meals and relief supplies;

• Provided nearly 76,000 health and mental health contacts to provide support and care to those affected;

• Distributed nearly 655,000 relief items like diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits,

• Distributed $45 million in financial assistance to more than 100,000 qualified households who needed immediate help.

Transitioning Out of Shelters

Thousands of people remain in emergency shelters and the Red Cross is there, making sure people get the help they need as they plan their next steps. Red Cross caseworkers are meeting with thousands of people still in shelters to help get some normalcy back in their lives. This includes identifying each person’s individual needs and connecting them to the critical services and resources they need on their path to recovery.

Emergency shelters aren’t typically intended to stay open for long periods of time—that’s why organizations involved in relief efforts strive to help people find more suitable accommodations if their homes are left unlivable after a disaster. The owners of many shelter facilities are also ready to get back to normal business. Some of the people staying in shelters who can’t return home are being helped through government programs, which may include relocating survivors to hotels or other temporary housing solutions. Some shelter residents will be helped through other community programs.

Now that Hurricane Irma has finally passed, we begin the long clean up and recovery process in Florida. Many of you are wondering how you and your business can help those in need of assistance. While we still do not have a complete picture of the longer-term impacts and needs in the community, here are 10 great ideas to get you started as you look for ways to donate and volunteer. We will keep you posted as we learn more.

1) The Central Florida Foundation has opened a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund and is accepting donations. https://cffound.org/give/donate_selected_fund/hurricane_irma_relief_fund/

2) Orange County Public Schools Foundation has set up a donation page at https://www.foundationforocps.org/p/608/hurricane-relief-for-our-ocps-family. They are in the process of setting up donation sites at schools for items such as clothing, blankets, shoes, and food and are coordinating with A Gift for Teaching for school supply donations.

3) One Blood is in critical need of blood donations, especially platelets and O- blood types. Visit http:/www.oneblood.org to find out donation sites or set up a mobile blood drive at your office.

4) American Red Cross needs donations for shelters and supplies. http://www.redcross.org/local/florida/central-florida

5) Salvation Army also needs donations for shelters and supplies. http://www.disaster.salvationarmy.usa.org

6) Second Harvest Food Bank is the vital emergency food supply for non-profit agencies and is in need of financial and food donations. You can also hold a virtual food drive with your company or group. http://www.feedhopenow.org

7) Clean the World is collecting donations and assembling hygiene kits for Hurricane Irma relief. Visit http://www.cleantheworld.org/relief to donate or find out about volunteer projects. You can also donate items through their Amazon wish list.

8) United Against Poverty is seeking donations to cover the cost of additional food truck deliveries for Irma relief. http://www.uporlando.org

9) United Way has started a Hurricane Irma Fund at http://www.uwcf.org

10) The Petco Foundation is matching all donations to Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando's lifesaving efforts after Hurricane Irma -- up to $50,000. https://petallianceorlando.org/hurricane-irma-donations/

accesso, one of The Community Seal's earliest Founding Members, provides cutting edge queuing and ticketing technology solutions to theme parks and attractions worldwide. accesso’s CEO, Steve Brown, and its largest office with almost 150 employees are based in Lake Mary.

accesso is a great place to work in large part because of their commitment to their employees and support of what is important to them, including giving back to the community. Every employee is given 8 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer, and they organize group volunteer project each month. They recently had 25 volunteers at Harvest Time International, which benefits families in need across the globe. They moved furniture, sorted bedding and organized office supplies -- with smiles on their faces because they knew they were helping over 10,000 families.

accesso is truly a Central Florida leader in giving back and social responsibility. Stay tuned for more stories from accesso and the causes they support.

Starting in August, try that restaurant you've been hearing about, enjoy a great price, and give back at the same time! Everyone benefits, thanks to Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month. The menus have been posted on VisitOrlando.com/MagicalDining. From Aug. 25-Oct. 1, more than 100 Orlando-area restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe meals for $35 per person. One dollar from each meal will benefit two nonprofits this year -- Freedom Ride and BASE Camp Children's Cancer Foundation.

Freedom Ride makes therapeutic horse rides possible for children and adults with disabilities. The BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation provides support and programs for children and families who are living with cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses. Some of the fabulous restaurants include: Amatista Cookhouse, Luke’s Kitchen and Bar in Maitland, Paddlefish at Disney Springs, The Smiling Bison in Sanford, and Urbain 40 on Sand Lake Rd.

Magical Dining Month is a great way to do good while eating really, really good (or is it well?)!

There are many ways to give back and raise money for a good cause, but if you can do it while having a great time, why not?!. Gala Season is coming soon, so if you enjoy a good party and want to give back, make your plans to attend a gala or fundraiser this Fall.

Go to the gala for your favorite charity or choose them based on the party theme, food, or entertainment. In September, Kids Beating Cancer holds its Phantom of the Opera Masquerade Ball; Bridges of Light hosts its Players Ball; and Give Kids the World hosts its 29th Black and White Gala. In October, there is the Roaring 20's Masquerade Ball benefiting Shepherd's Hope, the Happy Days Soiree for Daves House, and the 21st Tales and Tails Gala for Canine Companions for Independence, to name a few. For sugar and fashion lovers, there is the edible coutoure Sugar Art Fashion Show on October 13th for the Second Harvest Food Bank -- a sweet cause!

If you can't make it to the party, be sure to enclose a check with your regrets. And don't miss it next year!

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