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Disney donates wishing well coins to homeless charity

FILE - In this Thursday, July 2, 2020, file photo, cars drive under a sign greeting visitors near the entrance to Walt Disney World, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some $20,000 in coins that tourists tossed into Walt Disney World’s wishing wells and fountains became a Thanksgiving gift for central Florida’s largest homeless shelter.

“I am just so thankful, especially in light of everything that’s going on in the world and everything Disney is going through,” said Allison Krall, CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel. “We needed this so very much.”

The coins were dropped in the iconic wishing well at Cinderella’s Castle, along the waterways of the “It’s a Small World” ride, and in fountains throughout the local parks.

Disney periodically collects, cleans and sorts the coins before donating the total to a Central Florida charity, the newspaper reported.

With the region’s homeless population rising, the company decided to give the money to the Coalition for the Homeless, Walt Disney World’s director of external affairs Tajiana Ancora-Brown told the newspaper.

In addition, Disney’s chefs cooked up a Thanksgiving feast for 650 coalition residents and other homeless guests.

The feast required seven kitchens, 250 pounds of turkey, 60 gallons of gravy and cranberry compote, 300 pounds of cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and green beans, 800 dinner rolls and 72 apple and pumpkin pies. That’s enough to feed some 400 men, women and children who live at the coalition as well as another 250 homeless people who turned the the charity for a holiday meal.

For James O’Donnell, executive chef of Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the lead chef for the Thanksgiving feast — the effort is a first.

“I’ve participated, like all the Walt Disney chefs do, in the ongoing meals we serve at the coalition, but this will be special,” he told the Sentinel. “This one is for my community.”

Associated Press, The Associated Press