Against the backdrop of a world-record sculpture of canned goods destined for food banks, Disney Parks officials on Thursday announced a major milestone with the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program, a first-of-its-kind effort to help inspire 1 million people to perform volunteer service.
Since the program’s launch only six weeks ago, more than 600,000 people in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada have volunteered or signed up for volunteer projects in their communities, announced Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
“With the launch of our ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ program, we hoped to spark something truly special,” Staggs said. “But even we have been overwhelmed with the response.”
To recognize their good deeds, in 2010 Disney Parks is celebrating those who volunteer through the program by giving them a free one-day admission to either a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Volunteers can start the search and sign-up process by going to www.disneyparks.com.
HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute and the largest volunteer network in the nation, is supporting the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program by connecting volunteers with projects.
According to Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network and CEO of Points of Light Institute, 10,000 community organizations, through the Disney Parks program, are getting the volunteers they need to meet important community challenges.
“The level of volunteerism we have seen in the first weeks of 2010 is tracking to new highs,” she said. “Our dream at HandsOn Network is for everyone to recognize their power to make a difference. Disney is helping us make that dream a reality, a million times over.”
Since the launch of the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program on Jan. 1, 2010, volunteers have trekked through wetlands near Long Beach, Calif., and through mountain preserves in Phoenix, Ariz., clearing away non-native vegetation. A continent away, volunteers have whisked away trash on Atlantic Coast beaches in Brevard County and Dade County, Fla. In Port Huron, Mich., “soccer families” have picked up paint brushes to help spruce up a community center. In Atlanta, Ga., volunteers have assisted hospitalized children as they create arts and crafts projects. And with the forecast for a cold night ahead, the homeless in Central Florida were handed blankets by caring volunteers.
In addition to celebrating the “Give A Day, Get a Disney Day” program, Disney Parks welcomed to Walt Disney World Resort Thursday other outstanding volunteer families from the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada who gave back to their communities in special ways, as part of Disney’s celebration of family volunteerism in 2010.
“Today we are here to celebrate you,” Staggs told the families. “With each of your efforts, you make a difference.”
Canned-Food Structure Unveiled, Verified Largest-Ever by Guinness World Records®
As part of the event celebrating family volunteers and to dramatize the spirit of giving, Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday unveiled a mammoth structure of canned goods – food that will be donated to food banks in Orlando, Miami and Atlanta.
The canned food sculpture – titled “Celebrate Volunteers” – was revealed for media and guests at Epcot. Disney VoluntEARS shaped the sculpture with a larger-than-life Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto – all sculpted out of cans. Goofy’s trademark hat consisted of cans of bread crumbs, for instance. Mickey’s famous head was shaped from cans of black olives, and cans of sliced pineapple made up Pluto’s eyes.
The cans represent approximately 70,000 meals, according to Dave Krepcho, president/CEO of Second Harvest of Central Florida. “Each can makes a difference in someone’s life who cannot afford this food,” he said. “Much of this food goes to children in need, working moms trying to provide, senior citizens coping on fixed incomes and people whose disabilities keep them from working.”
The spectacular, character-themed structure – consisting officially of 115,527 cans – was also a world record, according to Guinness World Records, the internationally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement. Guinness World Records Thursday authenticated the achievement as the Largest Canned Food Structure ever created, easily eclipsing the previous record of 54,527 cans set in June 2009 in New Zealand.
Some volunteer families also shared star billing Thursday with stars of the Disney Channel and Disney XD. As part of Disney’s youth environmental movement, Friends for Change: Project Green (www.Disney.com/ProjectGreen), Joe Jonas, Demi Lovato and others joined the celebration, making special appearances throughout the day to show what’s possible when kids and families get together and volunteer to help the planet.