On Dec. 23, a fire at Kissimmee’s Unno Boutique Hotel left more than 200 people homeless, including many area residents renting rooms on a long-term basis. Thankfully, no one was injured, yet the losses felt by these individuals cannot be overstated.

Amid this trying situation, Orlando’s philanthropic spirit lifted many grieving hearts. Many community organizations came together and provided immediate relief, including the Osceola Council on Aging, which became a centralized channel for donations. Local hospitality organizations (Disney, Westgate, etc.) also stepped in to offer housing to victims, and nonprofit agencies provided numerous avenues of support, including case management services courtesy of the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee and the American Red Cross.

At Goodwill, we’re honored to be among those extending a helping hand. Soon after the fire, the Osceola Council on Aging’s auditorium was filled from floor to ceiling with clothing, household items and other generous donations from the community. Those affected by the fire had the opportunity to take as many items as they needed.

Afterward, the Council on Aging asked Goodwill to pick up the leftover donations in order to regain use of this auditorium, which is needed to serve seniors in Osceola County. These items now have a second life in Goodwill’s stores, benefiting Goodwill’s job training and placement programs for Central Floridians.

In addition, Goodwill provided $2,750 in store vouchers, so that those affected by the fire can buy anything else they need, such as housewares, clothing or shoes. Having a chance to shop for these items is particularly helpful to those who couldn’t find specific things or sizes they needed at the Council on Aging.

Emergency situations such as the fire at UNNO are an unfortunate reality of life. Here in Florida, hurricanes often pose significant threats to the well-being of our community as well. In times of trouble, Goodwill is committed to providing urgent response and support.

Goodwill Industries of Central Florida has been Building Lives That Work in Central Florida for nearly 60 years, and last year we placed over 7,500 individuals in jobs. Our vision is to be satisfied with our work only when every person in our community we are privileged to serve has an opportunity to develop to his or her fullest potential and enjoy a maximum of abundant living. Whatever trials in life may come, the spirit of Goodwill will always be ready to respond.

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