Dear Team,

Florida’s coronavirus numbers continue to increase and the news isn’t good. Between Saturday and Sunday, the number of reported COVID-19 cases hit 10,105 ---the highest one-day total since July 25, when the state reported 12,199 cases. Florida ranks third when it comes to the total number of coronavirus cases in the United States.

Last week we surpassed 50,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County. All of this is troubling as we head into Thanksgiving with the tradition of family gatherings. We ask that you consider alternatives to celebrate the holiday. If there are gatherings, the CDC suggests that people wear masks, limit the number of guests, open windows and celebrate outside, if possible.

Season of Giving
It is my favorite time of the year. It is the season of giving. With many families affected by the coronavirus, some may need a little extra support to make their holiday joyous and bright – here are some ways you can help those in need.

Toy Drive
A single toy donation can brighten the holidays for youth in our community! New this year, you may purchase gifts through Roonga, an online shopping platform. This contactless donation option allows donors to purchase items for the Toy Drive. All donations are shipped directly to the County’s Holiday Warehouse. The online donation deadline is December 7.

Shop, Drop, Make a Difference! Orange County is hosting a contactless Toy Drop-off Event at Downey Park or Silver Star Recreation Center on Monday, November 23, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring special guest appearances from your favorite sports mascots and the Fire Rescue Department. You can also drop-off toys in-person at a variety of locations through December 14. For more information and a list of drop-off locations, visit www.ocfl.net/ToyDrive.

Great Oaks Village
The Great Oaks Village (GOV) Annual Holiday Fundraiser officially kicked off on November 6 and goes through January 15, 2021. Since 1924, GOV has been one of the most historic residential foster group homes in the state of Florida. It continues to serve as a safe haven for children and young adults.

As the former Orange County Sheriff and Orlando Police Chief, I have witnessed firsthand the need for a safe place for our most vulnerable residents. I cannot imagine what would happen to these kids if it was not for the important work being done at Great Oaks Village, which is literally saving and changing the lives of the nearly 250 children who walk through its doors each year.

Last year, Orange County employees raised a total of $39,635 during the fundraiser, including in-kind contributions from community partners. We once again have an opportunity to help these young people realize and achieve their greatest potential by equipping them with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to overcome challenges and fulfill their dreams. For more information, contact Community Relations at 407-836-8938.

Virtual Red Kettle: Salvation Army
I am pleased to support the Salvation Army of Orlando Virtual Red Kettle Campaign. This online donation option is a safe, fun, and easy way to serve as a virtual bell ringer. Funds from the Red Kettle Campaign stay in Orange and Osceola County to help provide toys for kids at Christmas, provide clothes for the homeless, feed the hungry and countless other social service programs to those in need year-round. The deadline to donate is Christmas Eve. Click here to support our virtual kettle.­­

Training Opportunity
We are working hard with our partners to get our residents back on their feet and back in the job market as quickly as possible. We partnered with CareerSource Central Florida and Valencia College to offer a variety of short-term training courses at the Orange County Convention Center starting November 30.

Orange County residents can apply for tuition assistance through CareerSource Central Florida’s “Help is Here” grant program. Some of the courses offered include:
  • Carpentry;
  • Masonry;
  • Commercial truck driving;
  • IT/network support specialist; and
  • Medical Office Specialist.

To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Orange County, able to verify that you lost your job or suffered reduced wages because of the COVID-19 pandemic and be a U.S. citizen or authorized to work in the U.S. For more information, visit CareerSourceCentralFlorida.com/HelpIsHere.

Virtual IOA Corporate 5K
Congratulations to everyone who completed the IOA Corporate 5K this past weekend. Despite the transition to a virtual format and having to figure out how to do it on your own, Team Orange got it done!

This is another example of how resilient you have all been throughout the past several months. I am so proud not only of how our employees continue to prevail in the face of challenges presented by the pandemic, but also of your commitment to health and wellness. I look forward to next year’s Corporate 5K.

Please know how thankful I am for the support and commitment of our more than 8,000 employees. I wish you all a safe and blessed Thanksgiving holiday next week!
Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor signature