Lights are shimmering, the smell of gingerbread is in the air, and I can hear the Candlelight Processional in the near distance – the most wonderful time of the year is here and Walt Disney World cast members are once again celebrating the season by giving back through the Disney Ultimate Toy Drive supporting the Marine Toys for Tots Program.
This year was a big one as we celebrated 75 years of working with Toys for Tots to help bring toys to millions of children in need. At our resort alone, cast and guests alike donated more than 40,000 toys to help bring the joy of the holiday season to local children and families in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
And in honor of this milestone anniversary, we hosted the first-ever toy distribution event at Walt Disney World, where families picked up their toys and enjoyed an extra special experience where they could make treasured holiday memories together. Check out some of the festive fun they enjoyed, including meeting Mickey Mouse!
“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of Disney,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Laster, President & CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “We are so appreciative of the extra assistance and happiness cast members are bringing to families in need this year in hosting a distribution site. The pure smiles on faces speaks for itself!”
This tradition means the world to many of our cast members who dedicate their time to giving back to Central Florida as Disney VoluntEARS. This year, they spent nearly 4,000 hours collecting toys and supporting the sorting and distribution process at local Toys for Tots warehouses.
“My family was always supported by Toys for Tots, so I know firsthand that this is a really wonderful resource for families,” Disney VoluntEAR Karen shared. “This is my 30th year with The Walt Disney Company and every year, I help Toys for Tots. I’m so proud to work for a company that supports this and helps make sure every child has a gift to open this holiday season.”
I am so inspired by the tremendous impact our cast and company continue to make on the community beyond the holiday season. Since the start of the 50th Anniversary, Disney has given back in many other ways, including more than $5.5 million in grant donations to more than 60 nonprofit organizations.
If you’d like to join us in giving back, you can still donate to the Disney Ultimate Toy Drive at shopDisney.com through Dec. 24. And no matter how you celebrate the season of giving, all of us here at Walt Disney World Resort wish you the very merriest of holidays.