As my colleague Melanie shared last year, Disney VoluntEARS joined representatives from American Heart Association (AHA) and Walt Disney Elementary School teachers, students and parents to build the first AHA Teaching Garden in Anaheim, Calif., funded by the Disneyland Resort. Since the build and initial planting in November, the garden has continued to serve as a learning laboratory where students nurture growing plants, harvest produce and, in the process, learn the value of healthy eating. Today, I am excited to share that Disney VoluntEARS and more than 700 Walt Disney Elementary School students recently participated in the Teaching Garden’s first Heart Healthy Harvest Day!
Along with harvesting the garden boxes during the event, students tasted new fruits and vegetables and even learned about a unique form of composting that uses worms to recycle organic materials into soil. Each class also planted new vegetables for harvest later this spring.
“The Walt Disney Teaching Garden is a unique and natural learning environment that has given our students a first-hand experience of the seed-to-table process, while providing them with invaluable insight into the importance and appreciation of nutritious and healthy eating,” said Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Teali Fielder.
Looks like the students are really looking forward to their next crop!
This holiday season, Disney VoluntEARS continued the 60-year tradition of supporting the Toys for Tots campaign by collecting gifts for children around the globe.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort VoluntEARS supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive. These cast members donated more than 6,000 hours of service to help sort donations and distribute toys to families in need. Disney Cruise Line hosted toy drives onboard their ships, at their homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida and in their shore-side offices. VoluntEARS at Disneyland Paris hosted “Mission Noel.” At this event, they wrapped gifts for children from local communities who were invited to the park for Christmas Eve brunch. In total, our cast members donated more than 40,000 toys, books and games.
Toys for Tots is just one example of how we at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts enrich the lives of kids and families around the globe. Through contributions, collaborations with local organizations, in-kind gifts and volunteerism, we help make lasting and positive change in the world. To learn more about citizenship at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, visit http://aboutdisneyparks.com/citizenship.
At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, citizenship is important to our culture. We are committed to giving back to our communities and do this in many different ways. This holiday season, VoluntEARS from our sites around the world brought holiday joy to young patients and orphans.
Along with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, VoluntEARS from Hong Kong Disneyland visited Siu Lam Hospital and sang and danced with the patients. They also celebrated the holidays with 300 cancer patients and their families at Maggie’s Cancer Caring Center in Tuen Mun Hospital. They enjoyed holiday treats and played musical games to brighten spirits.
Tokyo Disney Resort’s VoluntEARS hosted a fundraiser and bake sale to raise money for a holiday gift for the Aiji-no-ie Orphanage.
Mickey Mouse and his friends joined sixty VoluntEARS from Disneyland Resort and brought holiday cheer to nearly 400 children and their families at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). They enjoyed holiday cookie decorating, a 38-foot long CHOC-olate Yule Log, Olaf-shaped balloons, reindeer games and a giant gingerbread house.
Before they even welcome their first guest, the Shanghai Disney Resort’s VoluntEARS are supporting their community by hosting weekly holiday activities at local children’s hospitals. They visited Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and decorated activity rooms and made Santa Claus hats with children.
Aulani VoluntEARS joined in the festivities and brought the holiday spirit to children in local hospitals in Hawaii.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts VoluntEARS are committed to bringing positive change around the globe and they donate hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours each year to the communities where they work, live and play. To learn more about citizenship at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, visit http://aboutdisneyparks.com/citizenship.
In the spirit of the season, I am proud to share with you the top 10 ways the Disneyland Resort and its cast have given back to the community this year. This list speaks to how we continue Walt Disney’s legacy of giving. Of a total $17 million donated in 2014, these 10 efforts top the charts! As we approach 2015 and the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, we will continue to nurture, inspire and empower families in making lasting and positive change in the world. Happy Holidays!
- The Disneyland Resort, Angels Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks committed $3 million (to be allocated over three years) to Accelerate Change Together (ACT) for Anaheim.
- The 24th annual CHOC Walk in the Park at the Disneyland Resort raised more than $2 million to support CHOC Children’s.
- Eighty-five Southern California nonprofit organizations benefited from the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund – to the tune of $415,000 in grants.
- 120,000 pounds of gently used costumes, shoes, mattresses and box springs were donated to Goodwill in an effort to reduce waste to landfills.
- 13,000 military care packages were sent to U.S. servicemen and women overseas.
- Two KaBOOM! playgrounds were built in 2014, bringing the total number of playgrounds built in Orange County to seven and giving nearly 11,000 children a place to play.
- 709 Disney Wishes were granted at the Disneyland Resort through Make-A-Wish.
- 249 Orange County arts and music projects received Disneyland Resort CREATE grants.
- A total of $75,000 in scholarships were given to ten Orange County high school seniors.
- Nearly 8,000 toys collected at the Disneyland Resort were donated to Toys for Tots.
On Saturday, November 22, Disney Friends for Change sponsored Family Volunteer Day, a nation-wide effort that demonstrates the magic created when families volunteer together to support their neighborhoods and communities around the world. The annual event, now in its 22nd year, celebrates the power that families have to make a real difference in their community, while strengthening their relationships and spending quality time together. Here’s a look at how Walt Disney Parks and Resorts teams participated in Family Volunteering Day and other holiday giving projects:
- At Disneyland Resort, Disney VoluntEARS helped pack food boxes at the Orange County Food Bank in support of Family Volunteer Day. VoluntEARS hosted another event at the Downtown Disney District to make healthy snack-packs that were also donated to the Orange County Food Bank. Additionally, Disneyland cast members participated in a Military Care Package drive and a canned food collection.
- To support Family Volunteer Day, Disney VoluntEARS and families from Hong Kong Disneyland took part in a coastal cleanup activity at Silvermine Bay. The event gave families the opportunity to spend time together while contributing to the cleanliness of their surrounding shoreline. In December, Hong Kong Disneyland cast members and their families will also visit two local hospitals for festive celebrations to help spread the joy of the holidays amongst patients and their loved ones.
- Every year, VoluntEARS from Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa partner with their neighbors at Ko Olina Resort for Thanksgiving Outreach, an event that serves meals to 4,000 people across Oahu’s Leeward Coast.
- In the spirit of Family Volunteer Day, Shanghai Disney Resort partnered with the non-profit organization Right to Play China through “Imagination Playground,” a play outreach program that aims to strengthen family bonds through various creative play activities. More than 100 children of migrant workers and low-income families have participated in family play activities with Shanghai Disney Resort VoluntEARS this holiday season.
- At Walt Disney World Resort, cast members and their families partnered with the 2013-2014 Walt Disney World Resort Ambassadors to support Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation’s (ONIC) Family Fun & Fall Festival. VoluntEARS helped set-up and break down the event, staff the activity and game stations and serve refreshments. Additionally, VoluntEARS from Disney’s Pop Century Resort will serve meals on Thanksgiving at the Coalition for Homeless Center for Women & Children and Men’s Pavilion.
Real magic comes from the efforts of families working together to make lasting and positive change in the world. Thanks to our teams from around the world and to the families who are part of that magic every year.
Cast members say that one of the best parts of working for the Disneyland Resort is the encouragement we receive to give back to our communities.
This year, Disneyland Resort cast members granted 85 Southern California nonprofit organizations a total of $415,000 in grants through the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund (DVCF). That’s nearly $2.2 million since the program’s inception in 1997!
DVCF is funded entirely by cast members through regular payroll deductions or one-time donations. Those who contribute during the year have the opportunity to nominate an organization of their choice. The organizations, from local schools to social service agencies, received up to $5,000 each. Organizations that received a grant this year include American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Club, Make-A-Wish and Sam Dimas Mountain Rescue.
Check out the video below and watch Christine Ludin, a hotels cast member at the Disneyland Resort, present $5,000 to the Southern California Special Olympics!
I recently joined my teammates and fellow VoluntEARS, representatives from American Heart Association (AHA) and Walt Disney Elementary School teachers, students and parents to build the first AHA Teaching Garden in Anaheim, Calif., funded by the Disneyland Resort. Developed using AHA science and nutrition guidelines, as well as information shared by gardening and education experts, the garden is a learning laboratory where students plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and, in the process, learn the value of healthy eating.
Some of us built planter boxes and planted herbs and vegetables, while others painted a mural, rocks and trash cans to beautify the garden. In just a few hours, we created a great new space where parents will continue to work alongside teachers and students to sustain the garden for at least three years, with supplies provided by the Disneyland Resort.
I am so proud to have been a part of this effort and make a difference for the community at Walt Disney Elementary School.
See the posts below for more Disney VoluntEARS events:
Anyone who has attempted to build anything knows how challenging and time-consuming the task can be. But with a can-do attitude and a giving spirit, it was an easy venture for a group of Walt Disney World Resort cast members who built larger-than-life sculptures using nothing but cans of food!
During the recent CANstruction Orlando food drive and design competition, it was impressive to see two teams of Disney VoluntEARS in action as they stacked more than 11,000 canned and packaged food items to create an iconic pair of mouse ears and a tribute to Disney’s beloved attraction “it’s a small world.” Their desire to give back to the community was in full display as they carefully and strategically stacked one can at a time.
Following the annual CANstruction event, everything used in the sculptures was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, a nonprofit that Disney has supported for more than 20 years donating several million pounds of food through its “Disney Harvest Program.”
Take a minute and see for yourself how these Disney VoluntEARS got everything to stack up!
Like me, many cast members at Walt Disney World Resort strive for a heart healthy lifestyle. As in states across the country, heart disease tops the list of health concerns in Florida. Whether it’s a family member, friend or fellow cast member, we all know and care for someone who has struggled with heart disease and stroke.
That’s why hundreds of Disney VoluntEARS put on their walking shoes yesterday for the 2014 Greater Orlando Heart Walk. As the signature fundraising event for the American Heart Association (AHA), the annual 5K was held at the University of Central Florida. Before they even crossed the finish line at yesterday’s race, Disney cast members formed teams to raise more than $23,000, helping the AHA make strides in its fight against heart disease and stroke.
With names such as “Ahoy Me HEARTies,” “The Happiest of Hearts” and “Mickey’s PhilHEARTmagic – the teams reflected the spirit of cast members throughout Walt Disney World Resort. Thanks to cast members’ fundraising efforts and enthusiasm for the cause, Walt Disney World Resort ranks among the AHA’s top contributors in Central Florida.
Besides raising important funds for the AHA’s research and education programs, the Heart Walk is a fantastic way for cast members to spend time with family, friends and team members in celebration of health and wellness. In addition to raising money and awareness for this important cause yesterday, walkers visited booths, entered to win fitness prizes and just had a great time together.
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.
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.