It’s the end of summer, school is officially back in session and it’s time for students across Central Florida to start another year of learning and fun. Walt Disney World Resort cast members participated in a Back-to-School Drive supporting A Gift for Teaching once again, collecting more than 40,000 essential school supplies and raising more than $17,000 – all to support teachers in our local communities.
“My heart is so full knowing that I work alongside such caring cast members in a place that has invested in our future storytellers for more than 50 years now,” Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs at Walt Disney World Resort, said. “It’s exciting to see the difference they’ve made and will make as we continue to invest in and empower local schools, students and teachers.”
This year’s Back-to-School Drive had a personal impact on many of our cast members – like Maureen, who was previously an elementary school teacher and principal before putting on the special Disney nametag. As a leader of the merchandise team at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Maureen is now on the other side of school supply shopping, helping young guests and students pick out their perfect pixie dusted item to include in their selection.
“The best part about being a cast member is the privilege to help others,” Maureen said. “When you think about it, it’s very similar to teaching. It’s always a joy to assist our guests – especially our young guests – when they share they are school supply-shopping at our resort. I love chatting with them and hearing how excited they are for the upcoming school year.”
Other cast members supported the drive and found joy in hands-on helping through our Disney VoluntEARS program – like Lauren Fremont, an ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex cast member and local middle school teacher. One event Lauren participated in was A Gift For Teaching’s Great Big Backpack Build, helping pack 2,000 backpacks with essential school supplies and contributing to A Gift For Teaching’s overall total of 15,000 backpacks filled. In total, our Disney VoluntEARS spent more than 2,000 hours supporting Back-to-School initiatives this year.
“That feeling you get when you give back to the community just makes it for me, and it’s the same [feeling] when helping guests – whether pointing them in the right direction or helping them with something they didn’t know to make their day a little bit better,” Lauren said. “It’s also similar with education because it’s all about making a difference for my students and helping them through any issue they might be having.”
Maureen and Lauren are just two of the thousands of cast members and Disney VoluntEARS across Walt Disney World Resort who cherish the amazing memories they’ve made inside a classroom and aim to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers in the place we all call home.
Check out what this back-to-school season has meant to some of our other cast:
“To make a positive impact in our community, it’s important to invest in our teachers,” said Jane Thompson, President of A Gift For Teaching. “We can’t thank Disney enough for its ongoing investment and commitment to education and volunteerism across Central Florida.”
Read more about other ways cast members are supporting local education efforts at every level on the Disney Parks Blog.