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Home-based agents lead fundraising initiative in wake of Hurricane Dorian

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
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Travel Agents Care’s Pat Probert, Karen Gill, Steve Gill, Ian Elliott and Marie Odorizzi

TORONTO — Travel agents pull together in times of crisis, even when they’re from different agency affiliations. Recently that generous spirit has been front and centre with Travel Agents Care’s fundraising efforts for the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Five travel agents – all home-based, and with two different host agencies – founded Travel Agents Care in 2017, to raise funds for Caribbean destinations impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The founders of Travel Agents Care, who comprise its executive board, are: Karen Gill, Plan A Vacation – The Travel Agent Next Door (St. Catharines, ON); Marie Odorizzi, This is Travel – The Travel Agent Next Door (Brampton, ON); Sharon Loppie – Time 2 Travel, Dartmouth, The Travel Agent Next Door (Nova Scotia); Ian Elliott – My Way Holiday, TravelOnly (Toronto); and Pat Probert – Bob’s Family Travel, TravelOnly (Toronto).

When Hurricane Dorian struck Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands in early September with devastating results, they quickly got to work.

Travel Agents Care works with Global Medic, an Etobicoke-based organization that provides emergency relief to those affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. In 2017 Travel Agents Care raised over $35,000 to provide clean water for families in Dominica. According to Gill, $50 provides a family of five with clean water for up to eight months using kits that turn dirty water into drinking water.

Karen Gill and Marie Odorizzi with Travel Agents Care

Karen Gill and Marie Odorizzi with Travel Agents Care

“With the horrible situation in the Bahamas, we reached out to the director of Global Medic and said we can do a campaign to get more water kits to the Bahamas,” said Gill. “The weeks after a hurricane are critical, the longer people are without clean water, the faster they will become ill and potentially die.”

Travel Agents Care immediately issued an open call to the travel industry to help raise funds to help those in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.

“We had an original goal of $5,000. We surpassed that and will now be changing our goal to $10,000,” Gill said yesterday. “The entire industry has been very supportive and we are really focusing on coming together regardless of any affiliation. We share the common goal of helping those in dire need after these hurricanes and their impact.”

Gill adds that Global Medic “are incredible to work with. They truly care and are the ultimate experts in getting relief to areas such as Bahamas. The water filtration kits are key to get into the area and $50 provides clean water for a family of five for eight months.”

The kits are used in local hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, schools and family homes or temporary living camps, she adds.

Travel industry members are encouraged to donate by liking the Travel Agents Care Facebook page where the donation link is posted.

Alternatively, donations can be made via www.travelagentscare.ca.

Also, all agents are welcome to join the group’s founders (Gill, Marie Odorizzi, Sharon Loppie, Ian Elliott and Pat Probert) and take part in fundraising, assisting with loading containers and helping with local initiatives, regardless of their agency affiliations.

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