Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny Vinik donated $50,000 to the University of South Florida through their Vinik Family Foundation to help provide financial relief to students facing hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money will go into USF’s United Support fund established to help students affected by unexpected changes related to the global pandemic and necessary social distancing protocols to address it.
The funds can be used by students in need for food, toiletries, rent and other basic essentials that are beyond their reach.
“We are pleased to be able to assist the students at USF during this difficult and uncertain time,” Vinik said. “We encourage everyone who is able to find a way to give of their time, talent or treasure to those who need assistance during this pandemic.”
The Viniks have been long-time USF supporters, including through donations to the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program in the Muma College of Business and the USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute located in the Water Street Tampa district.
With Thursday’s gift from the Viniks, USF’s student fund has now surpassed $240,000 with contributions from more than 1,100 individual donors. More than 1,000 students have applied for the financial aid, with approximately 175 students receiving funds and hundreds of other applications currently under review.
“We are truly grateful to Jeff and Penny Vinik for supporting our students during a very challenging time,” USF President Steven Currall said. “There’s nothing more important than the health and wellness of our community and the impact of each gift will provide much-needed relief to our students.”
USF is also accepting non-monetary donations of non-perishable food items and toiletries to supplement student food pantries on the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.