~ UnitedHealth, Royal Caribbean, Home Depot Pledge Millions ~
For Immediate Release Contact: September 23, 2004
Steve Uhlfelder, Fund CEO
Fonda Anderson, Communications
TALLAHASSEE – Contributions and pledges to the Florida Hurricane Relief
Fund now total nearly $12 million, according to the nonprofit Volunteer Florida
Foundation, manager of the fund. UnitedHealth Foundation has pledged $2 million
to the fund. Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have pledged
$1 million and Home Depot has committed $500,000 in cash and $500,000 in products.
The fund is being used to help Floridians impacted by the hurricanes this season
rebuild their communities and lives.
”Floridians are among the most resilient Americans, but the need for
assistance is great with three major hurricanes affecting virtually every part
of our state in just over one month,” said Steve Uhlfelder, who has been
appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to serve as voluntary CEO of the fund. ”We
are truly moved and grateful for this constant outpouring of support from every
corner of our nation, as well as right here at home.”
Other large monetary pledges this week include Anheuser-Busch Foundation at
$500,000. Corporate pledges and donations of $25,000 and up for the week: $100,000
each -- Abbott Laboratories, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Blue Cross and
Blue Shield of Florida, Nationwide Insurance, Raymond James Financial, St.
Joe Company and UPS Foundation; at $50,000 each -- Apollo Group, Florida Institute
of Consulting Engineers and Florida Engineering Society, Florida Select Insurance
Company, PBS&J and Prudential Financial. Also, CBS/CSI:Miami, El Paso Corporate
Foundation and Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund have pledged $25,000 each.
Donors are finding innovative ways to contribute to the fund. Dell Inc. has
donated 78 notebook computers to the relief effort. BellSouth Telecommunications
is inserting flyers about the fund in their next billing, to an estimated five
million homes. In the true spirit of collegiate competition, state universities
in Florida are doing separate fundraisers and competing with each other in
donations generated. To date, individuals and groups in 37 states have contributed.
The Florida Hurricane Relief Fund is designed to help make relief dollars stretch
and avoid duplications of funding. Counties selected for allocation from
the fund are determined by FEMA filings for assistance – those counties
with the most filings receive the largest percentage of the funds. Each county
selected is required to develop a plan for addressing needs that cannot be
met by insurance, state and federal assistance, as well as assistance from
other relief organizations. Relief organizations are required to participate
in formation of those plans.
Last week Gov. Bush distributed $200,000 in relief aid to Punta Gorda, the
point of initial impact from Hurricane Charley. The funds were specifically
designated by the contributing corporations to assist in health care and school
Governor Bush has appointed Florida leaders to guide the fund's growth. The
steering committee is chaired by former U.S. Senator Connie Mack, with Tallahassee-based
attorney Uhlfelder serving as the voluntary CEO. Vice-chairmen are Joe Lacher,
President-Florida, BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc. and Clarence Otis, CEO-designee
of Darden Restaurants, Inc. Also joining the committee are Susan Story, President
and CEO of Gulf Power Company, who will work to build business pledges, and
Tony Carvajal, President of Carvajal Consulting and Management, who will strive
to raise more than $2.5 million for the fund through association members. All
committee members are serving as volunteers for the fund.
The fund is managed by nonprofit Volunteer Florida Foundation. All donations
are tax-deductible and will be used for the hurricane relief effort in Florida.
For more information, call 1-800-FL-HELP-1 or go to http://www.flahurricanefund.org/.
Checks, made payable to the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, can be mailed to
Volunteer Florida Foundation, 401 S. Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301.