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corner of content windowHurricane Frances News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 9, 2004
CONTACT: Jacob Dipietre  (850) 488-5394

Governor Bush Announces More than $6 Million Donated to Hurricane Relief Fund

TALLAHASSEE -Governor Jeb Bush today announced pledges and donations to the newly created Florida Hurricane Relief Fund now total more than $6 million. Pledges continue to stream in to assist survivors of Hurricanes Frances and Charley. The fund, formerly the Hurricane Charley Relief Fund, was renamed just over a week ago when it became apparent that Hurricane Frances would impact Florida just a scant three weeks after Charley's destruction. To date, the Florida Hurricane Fund has received pledges from 34 states, Canada, Belgium, Taiwan and Singapore.

"During these trying times, it is meaningful financially and emotionally to have so many willing to help," said Governor Bush. "As Florida's attention once again turns to safety and precaution with the approaching storm, it is comforting to know individuals and corporations are focusing their attention on helping Floridians in need."

Among the new pledges is $1 million by the Darden Restaurants Foundation. Darden Restaurants, based in Orlando, owns and operates 1,300 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Seasons 52 restaurants across North America. The company operates 130 restaurants and employs 15,000 people in Florida.

"We all have suffered from these two hurricanes," said Clarence Otis, Jr., CEO-designee for Darden Restaurants, and a member of the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund's voluntary steering committee. "What a privilege it is for Darden to help rebuild the communities that have supported our restaurants for more than 30 years."

Other major pledges over the past week include: BellSouth Telecommunications Inc. with $200,000; Shell Oil Company, SunTrust Bank Florida,WCI and Wal-Mart Foundation pledging $100,000 each; BP, Ocean Bank, Pepsi and Washington Mutual at $50,000 each; and Dow Electronics with $25,000.

The citizens of Taiwan have also donated $50,000 to the fund. An estimated 500 Taiwanese at the Buddha Light Temple in Tamarac, Florida held a special group prayer for hurricane victims on August 22, the date - according to 4,000 years of practice in the Oriental culture - is considered the best day to comfort the spirits of those in need. Additionally, the Weather Channel has joined the effort by agreeing to scroll fund contact information across the bottom of their screen to help get the word out about the fund as viewers track Ivan's progress.

The Florida Hurricane Relief Fund is being directed to help Floridians impacted by the hurricanes rebuild. It will be allocated for needs that cannot be completely met by other relief organizations, federal and state agencies. Communities will decide on use of funds, with input from other relief organizations and county governments.

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 www.FLAHurricaneFund.org.

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Last updated: July 08, 2005

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