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Disney VoluntEARS Celebrate 2.5 million Back-to-School Donations with Day of Service at A Gift For Teaching

posted on August 8th, 2014 by Andrea Finger, Director of Communications

Can you smell those freshly sharpened pencils and hear the crack of newly opened notebooks? The unwrapping of brand new supplies like these signal one of my favorite times of the year … back-to-school season in Central Florida.

And I’m not the only one who relishes a new notebook or pristine set of crayons. Today, at A Gift For Teaching (AGFT), Mickey Mouse joined VoluntEARS from Walt Disney World Resort to celebrate the success of their annual back-to-school drive and assist in the nonprofit’s first day of teacher shopping at its Free Store.

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In recent weeks, Disney cast members collected 2.5 MILLION school supplies to benefit 70,000 children around Central Florida. They also devoted 2,000 hours to collecting, sorting and organizing donations such as paper, pencils, composition books and markers. Cash donations were particularly helpful, since for every dollar AGFT receives, the nonprofit can provide up to $10 in school supplies.


Besides their donations, Disney VoluntEARS earned a little extra credit with local teachers by helping them gather supplies at today’s Free Store shopping event. As they shopped, the teachers probably didn’t have trouble spotting the Hidden Mickey in the colorful mural created by Disney cast members and recently donated to AGFT.


Part of Disney’s longstanding commitment to supporting local students from early learning through college, Cast Members’ annual back-to-school drive has been a tradition at Walt Disney World Resort since 2003. As the wife of a Central Florida teacher, I really do know how much this drive helps our community’s educators and students stock up on essentials. It also gives school supply buffs like me a reason to relive the thrill of new pencils and notebooks.

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Disneyland Resort Promotes Earth Month in the Community

posted on April 28th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort


This month, Disneyland Resort and its cast members have been out and about in the community celebrating Earth Month. At MUZEO’s TrashARTist Challenge and Expo that the Disneyland Resort sponsored in Anaheim, cast members demonstrated waste reduction techniques and helped choose a winner of the art contest that encouraged people to turn trash into art.


Disney VoluntEARS also helped restore a natural habitat at the Heritage Museum of Orange County by planting 50 native trees and plants. At the annual Children’s Water Education Festival that the Disneyland Resort sponsored at University of California, Irvine, more than 200 Disney VoluntEARS helped 7,000 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Orange County learn about ways to help conserve the local water supply.


Boys & Girls Clubs from Orange County were hosted for a private screening of Disneynature’sBears” at the Downtown Disney District, and third-graders at Orange Grove Elementary in Anaheim were read environmental stories by the Disneyland Resort Diversity Resource Group, HOLA.

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Disneyland Resort Helps Build Sixth Playground in Orange County, California

posted on March 25th, 2014 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers from Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Family YMCA, KaBOOM! and Anaheim came together to build a new playground at John Marshall Park, less than five miles from the Disneyland Resort.


This is the sixth KaBOOM! playground that the Disneyland Resort has helped sponsor and build in Orange County since 2011. The playgrounds provide more than 8,500 children a safe place to play! By the end of 2014, Disney’s support will bring the magic of play to more than 75,000 kids and families nationwide as part of Magic of Healthy Living, encouraging kids and families to stay active and healthy.

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Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

posted on January 24th, 2014 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Earlier today, a group of our Walt Disney World Resort cast members were featured on “Good Morning America” helping to create an amazing magical moment for Give Kids the World, a local nonprofit that has provided vacation experiences for thousands of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Disney Cast Members Create An ‘Extreme Village Makeover’ for Give Kids the World

Shouting “Move that bus!” dozens of cast members helped unveil a Give Kids the World “Extreme Village Makeover” on live TV. For this one-of-a-kind project, Disney cast members dedicated countless hours to redesign and renovate the building. This beautifully re-imagined space features a registration area and lounge, as well as a floor-to-ceiling inspirational mural created with hundreds of photos of personal moments between volunteers and families.

The Walt Disney World Resort and its cast members have been involved with Give Kids the World for more than 25 years, with the resort donating theme park tickets or providing Disney character entertainment, and cast members volunteering their time through the Disney VoluntEARS program.

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Filed: Cast Member Profiles, Community Outreach, Walt Disney World Resort

Ho`olaule`a – Celebration! Disney VoluntEARS Spread Holiday Cheer in Hawai`i

posted on December 25th, 2013 by Todd Apo, Director, Public Affairs, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa

Mālama – to care for. That’s what we do for each other here in Hawai`i, especially during this special time of the year. Mālama is also why giving back to our community through the Disney VoluntEARS program is something that’s so valued by our cast members at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. It gives them a chance to share a little bit of Disney magic while making a difference in our own community.

Elliot Mills, Vice President and General Manager, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Helps Present Donation to the Kapi`olani Health Foundation

Last week, a holiday VoluntEARS event was made even more memorable for everyone in attendance with a special announcement. While visiting keiki, the children, and staff at Kapi`olani Medical Center for Women & Children we announced a $250,000 gift to the Kapi`olani Health Foundation for the renovation and rebuilding of their facility servicing keiki from Hawaii and throughout the Pacific. The gift will support a special family-oriented play area in the soon-to-be constructed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit building. Afterward, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Disney VoluntEARS toured the hospital, visiting keiki patients and their families in rooms, delivering small gifts and bringing smiles and holiday cheer wherever they went.

Mickey, Minnie and Disney VoluntEARS at the Kapolei Holiday Lights Parade Mickey, Minnie and Disney VoluntEARS at the Kapolei Holiday Lights Parade

Mickey and Minnie once again were the Grand Marshals of the Kapolei Holiday Lights Parade with Disney VoluntEARS walking alongside and sharing Aulani’s support for the community it calls home. At the end of the parade, Mickey and Minnie helped turn on the lights on the City tree and fireworks closed out this special night for our local community.

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Holiday Carol: It’s Giving Time from the Disneyland Resort

posted on December 24th, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

In the spirit of the holidays, and the annual tradition of the Disneyland Resort, we hope you’ll enjoy caroling about some of the ways the Disneyland Resort supported the local community in 2013 to the tune of “Silver Bells.” Happy holidays!

Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers at Disney California Adventure Park

$17 million, in donations,
Includes tickets and cash,
Has a feeling
Of giving.
Playground building,
Toy bins filling,
Granting wish after wish,
And from the community you’ll hear:

Disneyland, Disneyland,
It’s giving time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, care packaging,
Soon reaching troops far away.

Funding youth grants
‘Round our city
With the Angels and Ducks,
As ACT Anaheim meets
Needs of the children.

A classroom made
With concrete laid
By 30 VoluntEARS,
And from Ecuador’s students you’ll hear:

Disneyland, Disneyland
It’s giving time in the city
Ring-a-ling, arts granting,
Soon putting on student plays.

Thirty years, helping others,
Dressed in VoluntEARS shirts,
Has a feeling
Of giving.
Patients listening,
Mickey’s visiting,
Bringing smile after smile,
And from the community you’ll hear:

Disneyland, Disneyland,
It’s giving time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, scholarships in spring,
Soon funding their college way.

Strings of floodways
To the ocean
Collect trash and debris,
Disneyland helped launch

Watch the teams flock
To the CHOC Walk
Raising millions each year,
And from the participants you’ll hear:

Disneyland, Disneyland,
It’s giving time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, contributing,
Soon to more causes next year!

Click here to learn more about philanthropic giving at the Disneyland Resort in 2013.

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Disney VoluntEARS Around the Globe Bring Happiness to Kids During the Holidays

posted on December 20th, 2013 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

As part of our commitment to be a good corporate citizen, and to give back to the communities we serve, Disney supports efforts around the world that make a positive impact on children and their families. Every year, tens of thousands of cast members make volunteering a priority, building on a tradition Walt Disney himself started when he – along with Disney animators – would visit local hospitals to draw characters for children.

This holiday season, as we continue to celebrate 30 years of the Disney VoluntEARS program, our cast members are donating their time in communities around the world.

As I shared in a previous blog post, Shanghai Disney Resort cast members and Imagineers recently visited a local children’s hospital. Halfway around the world in Hawaii, Disney VoluntEARS from Aulani, Disney Resort and Spa paid a special visit to two local hospitals, bringing Mickey, Minnie and Goofy along to help spread some holiday cheer.

Disneyland Resort held its annual holiday party for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s), a tradition since 2001 for the Disneyland Food & Beverage team. Disney VoluntEARS hosted nearly 400 children and their families at an event that included Orange County’s longest “CHOC-olate” Yule Log, at more than 35 feet long, and a more than 7-foot-tall gingerbread creation based on “it’s a small world” attraction at Disneyland park .


Likewise, cast and crew members from Disney Cruise Line and Disney characters are visiting with more than 900 kids at schools, hospitals and children’s homes throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean this month.

Hong Kong Disneyland VoluntEARS handmade nearly 300 holiday wreaths entirely out of paper. Each one is different and created specifically for children in need. VoluntEARS also turned their monthly storytelling activities at a local public library into a holiday party featuring singers and dancers from the resort performing carols for about 100 children and their families.


At Disneyland Paris, Disney VoluntEARS are welcoming hundreds of underprivileged kids and families to the resort to celebrate the holidays. British Airways flew a group of 100 kids from the U.K. to Disneyland Paris earlier this week. And on Christmas Eve, local kids and families are invited to a themed brunch at Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon, followed by a day of face-painting, balloon workshops and fun in the parks.

VoluntEARS from Walt Disney World Resort have been collecting and donating more than 32,000 new toys, games and books to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots to benefit Orange and Seminole counties. They’ve also spent more than 6,000 hours helping to register families, and sort and pack the toys.


And in Burbank, Walt Disney Park & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and his leadership team spent an afternoon at the local Boys & Girls Club, painting buildings, assembling furniture and helping out with other improvement projects. Tom and the other VoluntEARS also spent quality time with club members, decorating cookies, Yule logs and a 300-pound gingerbread house baked by Disneyland Resort Central Bakery chef Christina Orejel and her team.


As part of the Walt Disney Imagineering 60th Anniversary in 2013, Imagineers pledged to take part in at least 60 outreach efforts in communities where Imagineering operates. This month, they completed their work on projects all over the world during the “60 for 60” initiative where they lent their unique talents to local communities by painting murals and designing a community garden.

On behalf of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Disney VoluntEARS everywhere, happy holidays! And check back throughout the month for more details on what Disney VoluntEARS are doing for the holidays.

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Filed: Community Outreach, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney World Resort

Shanghai Disney Resort VoluntEARS Give Back to Local Community

posted on December 10th, 2013 by Thomas Smith, Social Media Director, Disney Parks

Disney’s involvement in the community, no matter where we are in the world, is one of the most special things we do. You can find Disney VoluntEARS, giving their time and talent, and doing their part to improve and enrich the lives of kids and families in the communities where they live and work. And we continue this legacy, in the Shanghai community where our new resort destination, Shanghai Disney Resort, is under construction.

Just last week, Disney VoluntEARS from the resort celebrated International Volunteers Day with a special visit to the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs joined cast members and Imagineers in making holiday decorations with the children in a Disney-themed activity center. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse even made a surprise appearance, delivering gifts and bringing smiles and happiness to the children.


“I am very proud of what our Shanghai Cast and Imagineers have done here to continue the Disney commitment to giving back to the community,” said Staggs. “Over the past three decades, Disney VoluntEARS have worked on many meaningful projects, and now we are bringing this legacy to our new resort destination in Shanghai. Events like this provide us with opportunities to bring Disney happiness and magic to children around the world.”


Last summer, more than 100 Disney VoluntEARS from Shanghai Disney Resort and their families painted and furnished the colorful activity room at the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. The room was inspired by the “it’s a small world” attraction at Disney’s theme parks, and Disney VoluntEARS installed 30 different paintings of “it’s a small world” dolls.

The volunteer efforts at the Children’s Medical Center are just one of the many ways that Disney VoluntEARS are giving back in the Shanghai community this holiday season.

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Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

posted on December 9th, 2013 by Wilma Colón, Media Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

Like elves from the North Pole, Walt Disney World Resort cast members were busy this past month supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive.
Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

After days of shopping for bicycles, games, books and plush dolls, they donated more than 32,0000 items and spent more than 6,000 hours helping to register families, and sort and pack the toys so that thousands of Central Florida children have at least one gift to open this season.

They even found time to craft small presents such as fuzzy scarves, reindeer candy canes and colorful gift bags made during a special Family Day. The VoluntEAR event was meant to inspire others to give back during this season of sharing.
Disney VoluntEARS Help Spread Cheer with 36,000 Toys for Kids

In addition to the toy drive, Walt Disney World Resort shared some holiday cheer with a local nonprofit that provides services to help homeless families. Prior to a special community performance of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort announced a surprise gift of $30,000 for the Community Hope Center.

It made me so proud to see the different ways we are making a difference in the community.

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Thirty Disney VoluntEARS Help Build a Classroom in Ecuador

posted on November 22nd, 2013 by Kevin Rafferty, Jr., Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

Last week, thirty Disney VoluntEARS from across The Walt Disney Company traveled to Ecuador for Disney’s first ever Global Service Project in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Disney VoluntEARS.

Among them were cast members Dave Smith, Agar Yanulaytis, Rachelle Allen and Mohammad Jaffrey from Disneyland Resort and Ian Craig and Toshia Mcgoldrick from Walt Disney World Resort. The group helped build a classroom for a Quichua community in the upper Amazon.


“In Quito, we piled into buses for a seven-hour ride down from the highlands and into the Amazonian jungle,” Dave, pictured above, said. “At the end of a long, gravel road we finally came to the Napo River where we loaded our gear into motorized canoes and headed down the river. By the end of the week, we had completed much of the foundation work, painted an inspiring mural and learned a lot about the Quichua culture and the community’s desire to find ways to get their children the education they need.”

Photo 2 - Agar

Agar, above left, said, “At the beginning of each day, the children were so happy to see us, play games, sing songs and work with us.” Rachelle, bottom right, added, “The kids spoke a combination of the local Quichua language and Spanish, but as soon as they saw the Disney VoluntEARS Vinylmation I brought with me, they got huge smiles on their faces and yelled ‘Mickey Mouse!’ Mickey Mouse is all it took to break the language barrier and that warmed my heart.”


Mohammad, pictured below, said, “I was presented the challenge of a mural and asked the local children what they would like it to be. They wanted nature, music, books, soccer, and mathematics. I worked hard to make sure that the mural was their mural. The leaves on the tree include the handprints of all 30 Disney VoluntEARS and the locals.”


“It was amazing to be able to work directly with children and families in Ecuador”, said Ian, pictured bottom right. “We did a little bit of everything, from collecting gravel and digging holes to mixing and pouring concrete. Building this classroom helps provide better access to education for many kids and I certainly will cherish this trip forever.”


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