Disney’s cast members are known for their excellent guest service, but did you know they also donate a significant amount of time and money via the VoluntEARs program. The holiday season VoluntEARs brings extra cheer to Central Florida non-profits with more than 36,000 new toys for Central Florida children, a $30,000 gift to Community Hope Center to help homeless families in Osceola County and countless other efforts across the community. These actions reflect Disney’s ongoing support to help local organizations that aim to brighten the lives of children and families.
During this past month, Cast Members have collected and donated thousands of new toys, games, books and plush dolls to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots to benefit children in Orange and Seminole counties. In addition to collecting toys, Disney VoluntEARS have also given more than 6,000 hours to help the Marines register families for the annual giving campaign and sort and pack the toys.
“Through these combined efforts, we hope thousands of children in Central Florida will be surprised by at least one present during the holidays,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “We also hope that by giving their own time, Cast Members will inspire their children, family members and friends to remember kids of all ages during this season of sharing.”
The annual toy drive’s national campaign also received $200,000 from The Walt Disney Company as part of Disney’s long-standing support to the organization—which dates back to 1947 when Walt Disney designed the original Toys for Tots logo that is still used today.
“This year we registered more than more than 25,000 children who are counting on us,” said Gunnery Sargent Christopher Hoagland. “With the support of Disney VoluntEARS and so many other heroes, we’re better able to put smiles on thousands of young faces this year.”
Disney supports charitable efforts that make a positive impact on local children. Another beneficiary of this year’s holiday spirit is the Community Hope Center of Osceola County, which provides services to help homeless families. Prior to a special performance of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot this past weekend, George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort surprised Community Hope Center with a $30,000 gift.
“We are thrilled with this donation during the holidays,” said Mary Downey, executive director of the Community Hope Center. “This gift will enable us to provide needed services to our clients, many of whom are homeless or facing homelessness.”
Other community outreach efforts by Disney VoluntEARS this season include donations of:
- 1,500 Disney Bears to the Salvation Army
- 1,300 meals served at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida
- nearly 1,000 handmade blankets to local hospitals
- and countless donations to local food banks, among others.