Preparations for the meal, which includes roasted turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie, began on Sunday, when the team started making sauces, gravy, stuffing and cranberry relish – all from scratch.
“It is an extremely rewarding experience to be able to provide a sense of family and involvement for those who would have otherwise missed out on this time of year, when sharing a meal and giving thanks as a family is so important,” said Marotta, who has also made Thanksgiving meals for the organization in previous years.
In addition to the holiday meals, Walt Disney World Resort and Disney VoluntEARS support Coalition for the Homeless throughout the year in a number of ways.
For more than 10 years, food and beverage teams across Disney property have taken turns preparing meals for the organization’s clients twice a month – a total of 9,000 meals each year.
The organization also receives meals from Disney Harvest, a program in which excess prepared and unserved food from locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort are collected and delivered to more than 60 nonprofit organizations located in Central Florida.
Engineering Services Cast Members often perform maintenance work, such as cleaning air-conditioning units in the housing complex, and Disney VoluntEARS also visit the Coalition to help babysit children while their parents attend meetings or workshops the organization provides to help them back on their feet.
“We can’t thank [Disney] enough for their financial support of our children’s programs, donations of in-kind items and services, and amazing number of VoluntEAR hours given so freely by so many employees on all types of projects,” said Brent Trotter, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. “The time Disney spends in preparing and serving our homeless residents the evening meal on Thanksgiving is the icing on the cake.”
For the past three years, Coalition for the Homeless has been recognized as one of the top Disney’s Helping Kids Shine grant recipients. As part of this recognition, the Coalition continues to receive funding and ongoing comprehensive support from Disney, which includes board service, assistance in the maintenance and improvement of Coalition facilities, meals prepared by Disney chefs and donations of warm clothing in the winter.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort.
ABC Family is joining forces with DonorsChoose.org on the “Bright Student, Big Ideas!” campaign, www.ABCFamily.com/BrightStudents. For the first time ever, public school students in grades 9-12 will be able to work with their teachers to submit a project for funding. ABC Family will “Double Your Impact,” providing 50 percent of the project funding (up to $100,000 in total funding).
“ABC Family believes that every student can have a Big Idea, and we want to be a part of making those ideas a reality,” said Michael Riley, president ABC Family. “DonorsChoose.org, with its innovative micro-financing model, is the perfect platform to help us support students in the pursuit of the ideas that are most important to them. It is powerful to conceive an idea, work to make it happen and then see it come to fruition, and we want to be a part of empowering students to turn their Big Ideas into action.”
“Our partnership with ABC Family will help bring hundreds of innovative and inspiring ideas to life,” said Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, “As a former teacher, I understand the importance of keeping students engaged and encouraging leadership development, the impact of which will be felt by the benefitting schools and communities for years to come.”
Whether supplying 15 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird for an 8th grade class in the Bronx, microscopes for a 7th grade science experiment in Detroit, or a field trip for a Baltimore history class to visit the Supreme Court in session, DonorsChoose.org visitors have helped fund – largely through micro-donations of $5, $15 and $20 – more than 200,000 teacher projects that served over 5 million students throughout the U.S., mostly in poverty stricken areas.
Now, with “Bright Students, Big Ideas” campaign on ABCFamily.com, students can take on a more active role. Here’s how it works:
Step One: The student shares an idea for his/her school with a teacher (teacher must be a full-time public school teacher). Students can be as creative as they like, as long as the initiative enriches the class, school or his/or her development. For instance, projects could range from creating an anti-bullying video to hosting a mock trial on an important issue facing students or even a beach clean-up or the creation of an organic garden to help the environment.
Step Two: Teacher submits the idea on the DonorsChoose.org website. Submissions will describe how student(s) came up with the idea for the project, how many students are involved, a request for project materials ranging from $100 to $1,300, and a description of how the teacher will work with them to develop it. All submissions have to include the keyword “ABC Family” in the title field in order to qualify for funding from ABC Family.
Step Three: Once the project request meets the necessary requirements, ABC Family automatically donates 50 percent of the total amount needed (up to $100,000).
Step Four: Once the project is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org will send the teacher and student all of the materials they need to bring the idea to life.
Step Five: Together the student and the teacher put the student’s idea into action. Photos and thank you notes are then sent to the donors who helped make it a reality.
On Monday, the Disneyland Resort invited Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Poteat, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s S-6 communication platoon, and his family to “flip the switch” on more than 300,000 holiday lights blanketing “it’s a small world” Holiday, transforming the popular attraction into a visual wonderland and officially launching the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort. The ceremony, presented by the attraction’s sponsor, Sylvania, honored Poteat and his family for the contributions they have made to our country. Poteat, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1996, has completed three tours and recently returned from the latest, a seven-month deployment in the Middle East. He was joined by his three children, nephew, niece and wife, Clarice, an advisor to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s family readiness team, for a day of play at the Disneyland Resort followed by this special honor.
Photos by Paul Hiffmeyer, courtesy Disneyland Resort
Minnie Mouse joined Disney VoluntEARS today to deliver bushels of green to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida in the form of a $500,000 gift for the organization’s expansion. Disney also pledged 20,000 pounds of fresh produce during the next year as part of the commitment.
As part of Disney’s efforts to support organizations and programs that make a positive impact on children in the local community, this gift will fund Second Harvest’s “Building Solutions to Hunger” capital campaign. The contribution will help the organization build a larger facility so it can accept and distribute significantly more food and reach more Central Floridians in need.
“We’re confident the new facility will help Second Harvest reach even more neighbors in need,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “Our goal is to help bring an end to hunger in this community, and we are proud to join with other generous donors to bring this new facility to life,”
According to Second Harvest, the need for additional space at the organization’s headquarters is critical in reaching more children who are hungry in the community.
“The harsh reality is that the demand for our services continues to grow, and our infrastructure must grow with it,” said Dave Krepcho president and CEO of Second Harvest. “Capacity is king in the world of hunger relief, and a new facility will provide the ability to more than double our current distribution over the next 10-15 years. The gift from Walt Disney World Resort will directly help many thousands of Central Floridians.”
Second Harvest Food Bank will more than triple its cooler and freezer capacities in the new building, enabling the organization to accept and deliver thousands of pounds of additional food when then facility opens.
One way in which Second Harvest collects food for donation is the Disney Harvest program, in which excess prepared and unserved food from locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort are collected and delivered to the food bank five days a week. Since 1991, Walt Disney World Resort has donated several million pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank as part of this program.
The food donated from Walt Disney World Resort feeds more than 1,000 local kids a week at more than 60 nonprofit organizations located in Central Florida, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, after-school centers and day care centers for children and seniors.
By serving as the food bank’s pilot 20 years ago, Walt Disney World Resort helped establish the prepared and perishable food program at Second Harvest.
Earlier this year, Walt Disney World awarded a $50,000 Disney Helping Kids Shine grant to Second Harvest. The organization is one of many local groups Walt Disney World supports through the outreach efforts of Disney VoluntEARS, collaboration with local community leaders and millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support to local organizations. In 2010, Walt Disney World Resort donated $28 million in cash and in-kind support and provided 228,000 hours of volunteer service from Disney VoluntEARS.
Nearly 300 volunteers from the local community, Disney, city of Anaheim, Thomas Edison Elementary School and Anaheim Family YMCA joined together to build a new KaBOOM! playground and learning garden for hundreds of Anaheim children.
The new playground, which was based on designs created by the children it will serve, was fully assembled in two days. The new learning garden at nearby Thomas Edison Elementary School will teach children how to grow vegetables, furthering their knowledge about healthy food and nutrition.
“Projects like building this KaBOOM! playground can make all the difference in a community,” said Disneyland Resort President George A. Kalogridis. “We are proud to work alongside our community partners and our Disneyland Resort neighbors to build a place where families can enjoy time together and be active – inspiring our children toward a healthy lifestyle.”
Companywide, Disney is championing the well-being of kids and families, contributing more than $1 million in 2011 to assist KaBOOM! in building playgrounds and learning gardens in 13 communities across the U.S. These playgrounds are part of Disney Magic of Healthy Living, a multimedia initiative designed to partner with parents in their quest to raise healthy, happy kids by reinforcing their work and inspiring kids to make healthy lifestyles fun. As part of the initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama and stars from Disney Channel and Disney XD are featured in Disney Magic of Healthy Living inspirational public service announcements, which provide tips on nutrition and activities that make healthy living fun.
“This collaborative project embodies the Y’s commitment to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” said Paul Andresen, president and CEO of the Anaheim Family YMCA. “Through our work with Activate Anaheim, the Y and its partners are making improvements that promote healthy, active lifestyles for families throughout our community.”
Planning for the playground began in April when local children and community leaders met with organizers from Disney and KaBOOM! to design their dream playground. The children’s drawings were used to create the final playground design.
“There is nothing more exciting for a neighborhood than the creation of a new place to play,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. “Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, Anaheim children now have a new park playground to safely enjoy. On behalf of all our residents, I would like to thank the Disneyland Resort, KaBOOM!, the Anaheim Family YMCA and Thomas Edison School for making this project a reality.”
“The Thomas Edison School community—from parents to students and staff—are excited to be part of this collaborative effort that brings additional learning opportunities about healthy living to the children of this community,” said Dr. Patricia Sandoval, principal of Thomas Edison Elementary School.
In addition to the community-built playground and learning garden, the new play area also includes Imagination Playground in a Cart – a breakthrough playspace concept designed by architect David Rockwell to encourage child-directed, unstructured free play. Via manipulable loose parts and natural elements like sand and water, Imagination Playground in a Cart allows children to constantly change their environment and design their own course of play.
Adults are also able to visit the park and be active with five ENERGI fitness stations, which combine to offer 120 total exercises. These stations provide a workout that offers three levels of intensity so that everyone can custom-build their workout.
KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play. For 15 years, KaBOOM! has been fighting the Play Deficit, and this project is one of more than 200 playground builds KaBOOM! will lead across the country in 2011 in an effort to provide a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.
Photos courtesy Disneyland Resort.
Featuring the latest in pediatric clinical technology and soothing, kid-friendly environments, today’s opening of the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children ushers in a new era of children’s health care. The state-of-the-art facility offers patients a unique experience where kids are the main characters.
To mark the momentous occasion, hundreds of community leaders and medical professionals gathered for a moving ceremony on the front lawn of Florida Hospital for Children. Several pediatric patients shared their inspirational stories of hope and perseverance before being joined on stage by Mickey Mouse. A performance of an inspirational song punctuated by a colorful burst of confetti, served as a reminder that all patients are unique and receive a personalized experience at the Walt Disney Pavilion.
“A hospital can be an overwhelming place, and we have worked very closely to learn how to make each experience special,” said Marla Silliman, administrator of Florida Hospital for Children. “Our mission is to provide the best care possible for our patients. I believe that we have achieved our goal by creating a hospital that brings world-class physicians, top-of-the-line technology and a truly patient-centered experience for children all under one roof.”
Disney executives, including Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, toured the new hospital along with Florida Hospital executives and were greeted by children in the hospital who thanked them for their commitment to children’s health care.
“As a company with more than 62,000 cast members in Central Florida, we care deeply about the families in this community and are proud of our collaboration with Florida Hospital,” said Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “Disney Imagineers worked closely with the hospital to create a truly unique environment for pediatric patients and their families that we hope will inspire courage and comfort to those who seek care here.”
The Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children is a seven-story facility that creates a relaxing environment and brings some of Disney’s special magic into the hospital. When patients walk in the front door, they are greeted by several popular Disney characters in a one-of-a-kind interactive lobby created by Disney’s Imagineers. Inspired by the soothing environment of nature, the lobby features beloved and nurturing Disney characters such as Timon and Pumbaa from “The Lion King,” Flounder and Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid,” Rutt and Tuke from “Brother Bear” and Baloo from “The Jungle Book.” Walt Disney Imagineers designed the space to complement the hospital’s healing environment where young patients are supported by caring medical professionals, along with family and friends.
The Walt Disney Pavilion is comprised of 200 pediatric beds, a dedicated pediatric Emergency Department, an advanced 81-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and pediatric surgical suites. The nature themes that are featured in the lobby, which include the ocean, savannah, jungle and mountains, are carried throughout the hospital and incorporated into the artwork, design, family waiting areas and more. Each floor has its own theme to help transition patients and families to a relaxing environment beyond the walls of the hospital. There are even custom scents on each floor to match each of the themes.
Throughout the design process, Florida Hospital also enlisted the help of its Family Advisory Council, which is an advisory group of past patients, parents and staff that offers feedback on the hospital. The Council contributed ideas on the layout of patient rooms, helped design the unique “family zone” waiting areas and even tested out various chairs and pull-out sofas that were incorporated throughout the hospital.
“It was extremely important that our patients and their families have a voice in the design of this new facility,” said Tim Burrill, assistant administrator at Florida Hospital for Children. “Their feedback and input has helped us better understand their needs and led to some great new ideas such as our ‘family zones.’ Instead of traditional waiting rooms, we created themed areas for families to gather, grab a snack and recharge without leaving the patient unit.”
The more than 90 highly trained pediatric sub-specialists at Florida Hospital for Children cover over 30 pediatric sub-specialties, including Central Florida’s only Pediatric Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program. But it is not just the high level of care these physicians provide that makes this hospital unique; it is the child-centered experience that adds a special touch.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort
The Walt Disney Company today released its second Corporate Citizenship report detailing Disney’s progress on environmental and social impacts. The report also includes the Company’s first set of comprehensive citizenship commitments and goals, aligned around three core principles:
- Act and create in an ethical manner and consider the consequences of our decisions
- Champion the happiness and well-being of kids, parents and families in our endeavors
- Inspire kids, parents, employees, and communities to make a lasting, positive change in the world
“Being a respected global citizen isn’t just good for our employees and the communities in which we operate, it is critical to the growth and success of our business,” said Robert A. Iger, Disney President and CEO. “Our next step is to build upon our existing programs and initiatives by clarifying our commitments and expanding our efforts to track and measure our progress.”
Highlights of the 2010 Report include:
- Announcement of a comprehensive set of commitments and metrics that address Disney’s worldwide business impacts and opportunities.
- Global expansion of programs aimed at inspiring kids, parents, and communities to make a difference in the world. Disney Friends for Change, now in 19 countries, has rallied 2.5 million kids to take pledges for the environment. Disney Magic of Healthy Living, launched in September, partners with parents and kids to make healthy choices simple and fun.
- Investment of $15.5 million in carbon offset projects around the world as part of Disney’s Climate Solutions Fund, the Company’s internal carbon pricing program.
- Release of Disney’s Human Rights Policy Statement, with the aim of more clearly articulating the Company’s commitment to respecting human rights.
- Detailed data and progress updates on Disney’s supply chain and environmental footprint
- Corporate charitable contributions of $198 million, and more than 548,000 hours of VoluntEARS service contributed by Disney employees.
The interactive multimedia report, now available online only at www.disney.com/citizenship2010, includes comprehensive coverage of eight key areas: family entertainment, inspiring kids and communities, nature conservation, environment, community, workplaces, supply chain, and human rights. An interactive map provides insights into Disney’s activities around the world. The report follows the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
The citizenship report anchors a broader suite of publications. Six additional reports provide information on local impacts of our Parks & Resorts segment.
As winter weather sets a chill across Central Florida, thousands of local youth are keeping warm thanks to donations from participants in the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna.
This week, nearly 25,000 warm clothing items from Disney will be distributed to those in need through Orange County Public Schools, Osceola County Public Schools, Covenant House and other Central Florida non–profit organizations.
The items, such as coats, sweaters, long sleeved t-shirts and gloves, were collected by Disney Marathon organizers along the race route on Jan. 9. Runners typically bundle up in layers prior to the marathon to keep warm and shed items as they make their way through the 26-mile course. In total, approximately 14,696 pounds of clothing was left behind for donation. Disney textile services laundered all of the gently used items before giving them to Central Florida charities.
Photo courtesy Walt Disney World Resort.
A teddy bear is special gift. In an instant, it can become a child’s best friend. Partnering with the Salvation Army of Central Florida, Disney VolunEARS dressed more than 2,000 bears during this year’s Dress-A-Bear program.
Walt Disney World cast members have been participating in the Dress-A-Bear program for the past 14 years. Janice Jones, Walt Disney World Costumer and Workroom Manager, has coordinated Creative Costuming’s Dress-A-Bear efforts since the program’s beginning.
“It’s a creative outlet for cast members and it provides something special for children,” said Jones.
Many of the bears receive one-of-a-kind outfits, handmade with great care by cast members on their own personal time. Using scraps of fabric and creativity, VoluntEARS craft cuddly ensembles for firemen to princesses. Buzz Lightyear, Rapunzel and the Mad Hatter were found to be “beary” fashionable this year. All of these efforts are done in hopes of connecting with a child in need.
“To be able to share our talents with children, and to make one of kind unique clothes, is a labor of love,” said Elizabeth Lau, Creative Costuming Workroom Manager.
The special bears, along with 393 filled stockings, will be distributed by the Salvation Army of Central Florida to local children who are in need of holiday gifts.
With approximately 20,000 brand new toys in tow, Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS were on a mission this morning to make the holidays brighter for thousands of local children. Joined by Mickey Mouse and Duffy the Disney Bear, Disney VoluntEARS made a special delivery to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Central Florida Toys for Tots headquarters to drop off the sizable donation.
Walt Disney World Resort cast members have spent the past few weeks playing the role of Santa’s helpers by collecting tons of new toys as part of the resort’s annual effort to support the Toys for Tots campaign.
Items appropriate for infants and teenagers alike, ranging from dolls to bicycles, were transported from Disney today via military vehicles. Upon the convoy’s arrival at the Central Florida Tots for Tots warehouse, Disney VoluntEARS assisted a squad of U.S. Marines in unloading and sorting the thousands of donations.
“We are so grateful to Disney for their generous support of Toys for Tots,” said First Sgt. Michael Diaz, who heads up the 2010 Central Florida Toys for Tots campaign. “Their donations will make holiday dreams come true for thousands of local kids.”
In addition to contributing 20,000 toys, Disney VoluntEARS have given thousands of hours toward helping the U.S. Marines register families in need, sort and stock toys and assist with toy distribution.
This year, Central Florida Toys for Tots expects to assist 7,200 families from Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties in celebrating the holiday season with gifts for more than 20,000 children. The annual toy drive is meant to send a message of hope to youngsters by ensuring they have at least one new gift to open during the holidays.
The Walt Disney Company’s involvement with Toys for Tots began more than 60 years ago when Walt Disney and his animators designed the original Toys for Tots logo that is still used today.
The annual toy drive is one of many charitable activities underway at Walt Disney World Resort during the “Season of Sharing” that focuses on improving the lives of local children and their families during the holidays and beyond.