By Josh Cohen
Sept. 15, 2017
ORLANDO — Only a few days have passed since Hurricane Irma tore through Florida and caused massive misfortune. Many are still without power and need a boost.
Local organizations such as the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Clean the World Foundation are helping relieve some of the headaches caused by this tragic storm.
With help from Orlando Magic staff and other volunteers, there are now more food packs and hygiene kits ready to be delivered to those in need.
Clean the World got a head start earlier this month when Head Coach Frank Vogel and several of his players sorted through soap, shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and other items after Hurricane Harvey slammed through the Houston area.
The assistance on Friday in the aftermath of Irma will now significantly increase the number of hygiene packs available to those reeling from both natural disasters.
“It’s awesome, Clean the World cannot deliver our hygiene products and impact those in need without volunteers to help serve,” said Shawn Seipler, an Orlando native and the founder and CEO of Clean the World. “Here we are after the hurricane came through our community, I promise every person here is dealing with something either at their home, their neighbors’ homes, their families’ homes and yet here they are sweating, serving, doing what they can to help everyone else in their community. It’s amazing and it speaks to the spirit of this community.”
Seipler’s idea to combat hygiene-related illnesses started in a single-car garage not far from the Amway Center. After doing the necessary research on how to recycle soap and other bathroom essentials, Seipler started this foundation in 2009 and it is now helping save lives.
Nearby at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Greg Higgerson marveled at the volunteers who helped prepare food packs. Without electricity and a functioning refrigerator and freezer, many people have had to throw away perishable food.
Packaging family boxes and sorting meat products will help people restock their kitchens in the days ahead. Higgerson is always encouraged when local enterprises and community leaders donate their time.
“Any time we have something like this storm, it takes an all-hands-on-deck kind of response from the community,” said Higgerson, vice president of development at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “To have our premier sports team in the Orlando Magic stepping up to help us really makes a huge difference.”
Both Seipler and Higgerson are amazed by the unity they have seen throughout Central Florida since Irma’s exodus. They agree that this effort and kinship says a lot about the strength and resilience of the community.
“When everybody is hurting at the same time, it’s usually a really big lesson in humility,” Higgerson said. “It’s the time to pull together and we are really gratified to see the whole community doing that right now here in Central Florida.”
The Lakeland Magic have also been very active in their community. Volunteers from the Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate opened up the RP Funding Center on Friday and offered free meals along with fun activities for children.