By Josh Cohen
Sept. 13, 2017
ORLANDO — Making a full recovery from a storm as powerful as Hurricane Irma takes time. Restoring power, repairing damage and cleaning up debris doesn’t happen overnight.
What does tend to ensue in the aftermath of tragedy, however, is kinship and comradery.
As soon as Irma passed through, the sound of blustery winds and relentless rainfall turned into that of widespread community outreach. Many have gone to great lengths to help their neighbors recuperate.
Central Floridians, specifically, have done an incredible job assisting one another. An example of this was seen at the Northwest Community Center on Wednesday in Orlando where the Orlando Magic, Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill and other volunteers handed out bags of ice to those still without power in their homes.
“There are still a lot of people that are without power and one of the things they need is ice,” Dyer said. “This is what Orlando is always all about. We are united, we’re strong, we help each other and there is a great spirit and unity.”
“We cannot do this alone,” Hill said. “It’s a beautiful thing seeing the community coming together. Putting their woes and their cares aside to help their brothers and sisters is just amazing.”
The Magic have been very active helping people from different regions of the country bounce back from recent natural disasters. Last week, Head Coach Frank Vogel and several Magic players joined forces with the Clean the World Foundation to prepare relief kits for those reeling from Hurricane Harvey.
To further provide aid for those impacted by Irma, the Magic, their G League affiliate in Lakeland and the Orlando Solar Bears staff will assist in service projects throughout the community on Friday, Sept. 15. The areas supported include Second Harvest Food Bank with PepsiCo., Clean the World and Coalition for the Homeless.
The Lakeland Magic will also open the RP Funding Center in Lakeland on Friday from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. The Center will be equipped with charging stations, water and a kid’s play area. The Lakeland Magic will sponsor lunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and activities will be available for families throughout the day.
“Within the Magic family, within the community and your neighbors, everybody reaches out to help one another,” Magic Chief Operating Officer Charles Freeman said. “It just shows you how everybody unites at a time of need and we’re just glad people are safe and on the road to recovery.”
Watching so many people drive up and receive bags of ice brought much joy to Reggie Smith, the sports coordinator at the Northwest Community Center. He’s grateful for all the volunteers and believes this compassion will have a huge influence on this neighborhood and the city as a whole.
“It makes you feel stronger,” he said. “It creates a bond between people. At times like this, it brings people together. It’s a really good thing for Orlando.”