Submitted by Postcards from Mickey
Postcards from Mickey, an initiative that sends postcards autographed by Disney characters to children battling life-threatening and chronic illnesses, is sending some magic in a new way during the coronavirus pandemic — by partnering with others to donate autographed postcards to active COVID-19 workers at local hospitals.
“After hearing the virus could last on paper and cardboard surfaces, I knew the best decision was to temporarily pause mailing efforts,” said Jennifer DiDomenico, founder of Postcards from Mickey. “Many of the kids I’ve sent postcards to in the past have compromised immune systems. I didn’t want to put them at any risk.”
But paused mailings didn’t mean delivering magic had to be put on hold completely.
While scrolling through Facebook, DiDomenico noticed a post from childhood friend Niki Patten who was putting together care packages for COVID-19 nurses at AdventHealth in Celebration, where the two grew up and went to school together.
“The idea started since my mother is one of the nurses caring for the COVID-19 patients,” said Patten. “I wanted to be able to volunteer and help as much as possible. But since I was not able to, I thought, why not give the essential workers some care packages to show them the community is supporting them.”
Patten and a handful of her co-workers (Robin Kendall, Ksenia Matos and Laura Polis) now assemble care packages on a weekly basis for 30 of the hospital’s COVID-19 workers — including nurses, technicians, secretaries, housekeeping, transporters and respiratory care. Since March 22, more than 120 care packages have been donated.
These kind gestures of support include healthy snacks, fruit, candy, stress-relief essential oils, motivational quotes, thank you letters and even postcards autographed by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
With an overwhelmingly positive response came a second postcard donation. This time, 28 to Osceola Regional Medical Center in partnership with Orlando Feed It Forward — a mission to support Central Florida’s frontline workers with meals and cards during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My husband, Nick, is an emergency medicine physician. He is on the frontline of this pandemic,” said Kaitlyn Fusco, founder of Orlando Feed It Forward. “With all he does on a daily basis to keep our community safe, plus now all the safety precautions he needs to take at home to keep his family safe, I saw a need to support him in this difficult time. I want him and other healthcare workers to know I am here for them. I see them. And I appreciate them.”
Orlando Feed It Forward has made 11 deliveries to six hospitals, totaling 633 meals from restaurants like Little Greek Fresh Grill in Celebration, PDQ in Hunter’s Creek, and Jason’s Deli in Orlando.
Fusco said with a family that has strong roots in the restaurant business, she wanted to do something that also helps local business owners. To learn more about Orlando Feed It Forward, visit Facebook.com/OrlandoFeedItForward. To partner for a meal delivery, contact Kaitlyn at OrlandoFeedItForward@gmail.com.
Each postcard donated by Postcards from Mickey to Patten and Fusco’s causes were signed by Disney characters throughout the company’s Florida and California theme parks. DiDomenico also wrote words of encouragement on every postcard.
“It’s been incredibly heartwarming to see how our community has responded to this pandemic,” said DiDomenico. “We can never express enough gratitude to our frontline and essential workers, but what we can do is show appreciation and send them a smile when they need it the most. And that’s what Postcards from Mickey is all about.”
About Postcards from Mickey
Postcards from Mickey was created in September 2018, during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The initiative is meant to honor Jarred Paluzzi, a friend who lost his battle with cancer in July 2018. To learn more, visit PostcardsfromMickey.com or follow @WDWPostcards on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Note: Postcards from Mickey is not affiliated with The Walt Disney Company.