Baptist Health South Florida, Florida Blue, Jefferies LLC, Publix, The Miami Dolphins, The Ted Arison Family Foundation and Verizon among top supporters
As Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5, United Way of Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23 activated Operation Helping Hands (OHH) to provide South Floridians a secure way to help. Knowing firsthand the devastation a hurricane of this magnitude can cause, residents, corporations, business leaders and local governments, including Miami-Dade County and City of Miami, donated $1,535,278, while 1,310 volunteers clocked in 5,389 hours to gather, sort and pack donated goods.
Top donations include: Baptist Health South Florida, including gifts from employees, donated more than $200,000; Florida Blue, Jefferies LLC, The Ted Arison Family Foundation and Verizon, who donated $100,000 each; and The Miami Dolphins and Publix, who donated $50,000 each. UniMas 69, Amor 107.5, Mix 98.3, Radio Mambi 710 AM and TUDN 1140AM are also media partners in this endeavor.
“Our community’s outpouring of support for the Bahamas continues to show what is possible when our residents, local governments and businesses come together,” Maria C. Alonso, president & CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade, said. “The road to rebuilding these beautiful islands is long and difficult, but we are here to help and will continue to invest in our neighbors’ recovery.”
United Way also served as a convener, bringing people and resources together. For instance, business leader and new United Way Tocqueville Society member, Ricky Patel, gathered goods through a massive social media campaign and needed a way to reach the Bahamas. United Way connected him with UPS Americas & the Caribbean who chartered two 767 jetliners and activated staff to load and deliver all the supplies.
As of Nov. 25, grant allocations include:
- $225,000 to Food for the Poor to provide light to communities in eastern Grand Bahama and Abaco through solar lighting installations. Econo Supermarkets in partnership with United Way of Puerto Rico raised $165,000 of these funds.
- $200,000 to IsraAID to create up to 10 child friendly spaces for 3,400 children in shelters and community centers in the impacted areas of Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence. Through this program, the children will also receive counseling multiple times per week.
- $100,000 to Samaritan’s Purse to support the facilitation of medical care in its field hospital in Freeport for up to 430 patients and the distribution of 1,000 family survival kits containing blankets, cooking utensils, hygiene items and tarps.
- $14,000 to Food for the Poor to cover the purchase of accessories to enable two donated tractors to serve as forklifts, as well as, the cost of transporting the tractors and accessories to Freeport, Bahamas. The tractors have the capacity to clear debris and move heavy pallets.
- Locally, United Way has provided emergency assistance to evacuees and connected them to local resources depending on their needs.
Over the coming months, United Way will continue to allocate funds to organizations that are providing long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Bahamas.
Originally, Operation Helping Hands was a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade, the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, and JCS Helpline Services that was created in 1998 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Mitch and Georges, to provide the people of South Florida a way to extend a helping hand to their neighbors in need. Since then, it has been reactivated numerous times in response to disasters and other emergency situations.