Hundreds gathered in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) in early January for the announcement that Allegiant Air would launch 11 new, nonstop routes.
But it was more than an announcement. The event boasted live music, door prizes and white souvenir towels that were twirled in the air. Volunteers representing The Arc of the Emerald Coast, an organization that provides services to children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, helped staff the event.
Diane Winnemuller, the publisher of the Northwest Florida Daily News, said the Daily News and its parent company, Gatehouse Media, felt compelled to donate in honor of the volunteers who made the announcement event at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport so special. She recalled how some volunteers dressed in themed costumes to reflect the various new destination flights.
“They became an integral part of the event; they volunteered and provided our costume characters,” Winnemuller said. “In appreciation for that, we’re donating $1,000 to the charity.”
She said she was impressed that volunteers donated their time before they knew about the Daily News’ donation, she said.
“It was nice to see people come together to support such a great charity and such a big community announcement that’s good for our community,” Winnemuller said. “It was a fun day.”
The nonprofit currently serves 82 families in Santa Rosa County. At its facilities in Milton, the nonprofit offers adult training services and early intervention for ages zero to 3. It also offers supported employment and supported living.
Donna Tashik, the director of community development for The Arc of the Emerald Coast, said volunteers who helped had no interest in being paid. Working for a nonprofit, Tashik meets the most generous people, she said.
“You get that warm fuzzy, because you do see the best people in the world,” Tashik said. “You get to see just how much people will give.”