At Disney, support for those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families starts right here with our own cast members, many of which serve in the U.S. military reserves. One of these heroes is Harry Porrata Doria, a Guest Experience Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who also serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a Master Sergeant.
Harry Porrata Doria, a Guest Experience Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, who continues to serve in uniform as a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves
Before embarking upon an extended deployment to Southwest Asia a few months ago, Harry gave us a call and asked if our Disney SALUTE veteran affinity group could help him make some magic for his team of more than 100 deployed Airmen. In true Disney fashion, Harry was already planning to create a memorable experience for others. He knew they’d be living in tough conditions in the Middle East while serving our county and wanted to plan something special. We were glad to help.
Creating special care packages for a deployed military unit
The Disney SALUTE team acted quickly and set up collection boxes around Walt Disney World offices and in no time, they were overflowing with essential items and treats ready to be sent across the world. The Disney SALUTE veteran affinity group is a collection of cast members who have either served in the military or come from military families, so we know how care packages like these are a big boost to morale for those who can be deployed far from family and friends.
The Disney SALUTE veteran affinity group members and Disney’s Animal Kingdom cast members sorting through a mountain of donated items to make magic for a deployed U.S. Air Force unit.
Disney VoluntEARS including SALUTE members and Harry’s fellow cast from Disney’s Animal Kingdom gathered one morning as the sun rose over this iconic theme park. We got to work sorting through an impressive amount of donated food and hygiene products and packed them up into several boxes that were soon on their way across the world. The care packages also included letters from Disney cast members and executives wishing Harry well and thanking him for his selfless service.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom cast members assembled care packages with words of encouragement to the deployed Air Force unit during a sunrise VoluntEARS event.
A highlight during the VoluntEARS event was seeing a special video Harry sent us in advance where he thanked his fellow cast members for their support in helping him do something special for his fellow deployed service members.
Harry Porrata Doria, a Guest Experience Manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and U.S. Air Force Reservist, thanks his fellow Disney cast via video from the Middle East for the care packages being sent to his deployed Air Force unit.
A special thank you from overseas
The packages arrived several weeks later in the undisclosed location in the Middle East. And while the boxes were a little beat up, Harry’s team of Airmen were able to enjoy delicious treats, including some crisped rice cereal treats from Minnie’s Bake Shop along with many essential items to make their deployment a little bit easier.
“My Unit and myself would like to thank everyone that donated items and time to package and send these great care packages for us,” said Harry. “We really loved everything sent, but especially the healthy snacks! Thanks for bringing a little magic to our team while we’re deployed far from home.”
A highlight of the VoluntEARS event was hearing a video greeting from Harry from an undisclosed location in the Middle East thanking them for making some magic for his U.S. Air Force unit.
(Image courtesy of Harry Porrata Doria)
Disney helps deployed military unit and local Veteran Service Organization
Our cast are exceptionally generous, and upon collecting all the donations for Harry’s unit, we found ourselves standing in front of a mountain of items—too much to send it all halfway across the world. Given the impressive amount of donated goods, we were able to take half of the donations and share them with our friends at the Orlando Fisher House, one of 95+ comfort homes across the United States built by the Fisher House Foundation. Military and veterans’ families can stay at the Orlando Fisher House at no cost while a loved one is receiving medical treatment at the Orlando VA Medical Center at Lake Nona. We’re honored to participate in recurring volunteer events over the years in support of the Fisher House’s important mission.
We were thrilled to step up and create a happy moment for Harry and his unit and wish them all a safe return home. The Walt Disney Company has a longstanding 100-year tradition of support for the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Disney SALUTE veterans affinity group proudly contributes to this enduring tradition.