According to a Thursday press release, the Gulf Power Foundation donated the money to the United Way of Northwest Florida to address increased demand for certain services and possibly help charities unable to fund-raise because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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PANAMA CITY — Gulf Power has donated $125,000 to the local United Way to help charities struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


According to a Thursday press release, the Gulf Power Foundation donated the money to the United Way of Northwest Florida to address increased demand for certain services and possibly help charities unable to fund-raise because of the COVID-19 outbreak.


“We are excited by the initiative that Gulf Power has taken to advocate on behalf of their local nonprofit communities by reaching out to their partners and vendors and encouraging them to contribute to this COVID-19 relief effort,” said Bryan Taylor, president of United Way of Northwest Florida. “With so much uncertainty in our lives right now, it is truly a blessing to be able to be certain that Gulf Power is always going to step up and do the very best they can to support our local nonprofit community.”


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While United Way has yet to determine exactly how the money will be dispersed among area nonprofits, it’s expected to be used to bolster certain human services, such as preschool and after school programs, backpack programs for children, child care services, social services, senior services and services that help people with disabilities.


"As with their immediate charitable response to Hurricane Michael, Gulf Power continues to be quick to lend support to its nonprofit community,” Darren Haiman, owner of Nation’s Real Estate and chairman of the Board of Directors of United Way of Northwest Florida, said in the press release. “We are very grateful for their generous stewardship."


Meanwhile, some of the funds could be used to help charities that can’t fund-raise or even offer services because of state restrictions imposed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Taylor said.


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“We might allow our partners to apply for lost income,” Taylor said.


Taylor said all of United Way’s partners are struggling during the pandemic and he’s worried for some of them more now than he was after Hurricane Michael hit in 2018.


“We’ve had no agency shutdown since the hurricane … I’m more concerned about losing them to this than the hurricane,” Taylor said. “Some are already planning to make cuts and lay people off … it’s been more damaging than the hurricane from that perspective.”


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The press release adds that Gulf Power is committing $500,000 to United Way organizations across Northwest Florida to help members of the communities impacted by COVID-19. The emergency assistance is part of a larger $1.5 million commitment from NextEra Energy, the world leader in wind and solar energy, and its family of companies.


“As part of the fabric of Northwest Florida, Gulf Power has a long history of helping our customers and our communities during difficult times,” Gulf Power President Marlene Santos said in the press release. “This crisis is different from anything we have ever experienced before and we must pull together as a community to lend help to those most impacted.”