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.
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’s “Bears” 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.