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Florida’s first lady partners with Volunteer Florida to make it easier to give back

Public-private agency, with help of First Lady Casey DeSantis, unveil Volunteer Connect

Volunteer Florida CEO Clay Ingram and Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – If you are asking yourself how you can give back this holiday season, or if you are part of a nonprofit that needs help, Florida’s first family and Volunteer Florida are trying to make it easier for everyone.

Thousands came to the Panhandle to volunteer after Hurricane Michael. It happens every time a storm hits somewhere.

“We just figured we’d bring a fryer over here, and help cook and feed the people,” said Gene Monteiths, with Big Bend Kitchen Services.

Volunteer Florida has logged more than 4 million volunteer hours in the last year. Now, the public-private agency, with the help of Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, is unveiling Volunteer Connect, a way for volunteers to connect with their passion, whatever it may be.

“So, if you like animals or children or you want to help the homeless or the environment, you can go to one centralized site and be able to find something you want to be a part of,” DeSantis said.

Simply type in your location and what you want to do.

“We’re excited about all the things outside the box that can be done,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Clay Ingram.

Ingram said opportunities go far beyond wanting to work in a soup kitchen.

“Working at night in your PJs, wanting to help a nonprofit with (its) accounting -- I mean, it’s endless possibilities,” Ingram said.

Bright Futures recipients or high school students can use Volunteer Connect to fulfill community service hours needed to graduate.

“There are people across this state who want to help, and sometimes they just don’t know where to turn to make a difference,” DeSantis said.

But now they do.

The first lady is asking people from around Florida to consider coming to the Panhandle to help residents still suffering a year after Hurricane Michael.

To check on volunteer opportunities, visit VolunteerFlorida.org.