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.
(L-R) US Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jahir Jimenez, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Duffy the Disney Bear and US Marine Corps First Sgt. Michael Diaz, head of the 2010 Central Florida Toys for Tots campaign, pose Nov. 15, 2010 in front of the “Cuddliest Christmas Tree” at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 20-foot-high, 10-foot-wide Christmas tree made of 1,200 stuffed Duffy bears was created for the launch of Walt Disney World Resort’s annual Toys for Tots collection drive. For the next few weeks, Walt Disney World Resort cast members will play the role of Santa’s helpers by collecting new toys for the annual toy drive, which will be added to Monday’s donation of 1,200 stuffed Duffy bears from the “Cuddliest Christmas Tree.” The annual toy drive is one of many charitable activities under way 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. (Photo by Gene Duncan/Disney)
Disneynature announced plans to collaborate with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) on a program to celebrate the release of the new Disneynature feature film “African Cats.” The program, “See ‘African Cats,’ Save the Savanna” was revealed in Nairobi, Kenya, during AWF’s 50th anniversary celebration last evening. During the film’s opening week (April 22-28), a portion of the proceeds from that week’s ticket sales will be donated to the organization through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to ensure the future of lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, giraffes and a host of other animals in the vibrant African savanna. The AWF will be working to protect the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor, a passage between the Amboseli, Tsavo West and Chyulu National Parks, that is frequently used by a variety of wildlife.
“We are celebrating 50 years of working with the people of Africa to ensure the wildlife and these wild lands endure forever; extending the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor will be a great step forward in these efforts.”
“With its honest portrayal of life on the African savanna, ‘African Cats’ reveals the brilliance of the animals who live there,” said Alan Bergman, president, The Walt Disney Studios. “We are committed to helping the African Wildlife Foundation establish this protective corridor, building upon previous enormously successful conservation efforts from the Disneynature label.”
“The African Wildlife Foundation is proud to work so closely with Disneynature on the release of ‘African Cats,’” said Patrick Bergin, CEO, African Wildlife Foundation. “We are celebrating 50 years of working with the people of Africa to ensure the wildlife and these wild lands endure forever; extending the Amboseli Wildlife Corridor will be a great step forward in these efforts.”
The film, which will be released in theaters worldwide, opens in North America on April 22, 2011. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are already available in the United States by calling 1-888-DISNEY6.
Disneyland Resort cast members made magic for their favorite Southern California nonprofit organizations by donating more than $385,000. This month, cast members selected nearly 80 organizations – from local schools to social services – to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
The Anaheim Interfaith Shelter was one of the organizations that received a $5,000 grant. The shelter will use the funds to provide healthy food options at its on-site food pantry, helping to counter obesity among underprivileged children. The organization assists families in need of short-term support due to one-time events that cause homelessness.
“This grant will allow us to provide healthy food items to children in need, and we hope it will have a lasting impact by encouraging a healthy lifestyle,” said Colleen Smagala, executive director, Anaheim Interfaith Shelter. “We are thankful to Disneyland Resort cast members for their continued support and look forward to making a positive impact in partnership with them.”
Since its inception 13 years ago, cast members have contributed, managed and dispersed donations from the Disney VoluntEARS Community Fund to support innovative programs within nonprofit organizations. The fund has provided more than $3.7 million in grants to hundreds of organizations.
“This program is unique in that it is entirely funded by cast members who donate through regular payroll deductions or one-time donations,” said Jill Bolton, director, community relations, Disneyland Resort. “Each year, those who contribute have an opportunity to nominate their favorite nonprofit organizations to receive the grants.”
The program began when Resort cast members demonstrated a desire to contribute to their communities through nonprofit organizations with whom they were affiliated. The Disneyland Resort covers all administration costs associated with the fund so that 100 percent of cast member donations support the grants.
Disneynature announced today that its “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” campaign will protect more than 35,000 acres of coral reef in The Bahamas on behalf of the moviegoers who came out to see Disneynature’s motion picture “Oceans” during its opening week. Through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Disneynature will help establish new marine protected areas through the The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program. At 55 square miles, this protected area of coral reefs will be almost two-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan or the equivalent of more than 412 Disneylands, supporting the expansion of the Westside National Park of Andros.
The Bahamas represent an important ecosystem, straddling the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The 700 islands that comprise The Bahamas contain miles of vital coral reefs, which are the foundation of a healthy ocean environment, providing shelter, nurseries and feeding grounds for hundreds of marine species, including dolphins, sea turtles and a wide range of fish. Scientists estimate that the coral reefs of the Caribbean could be gone in 50 years without a network of well-managed marine protected areas.
“We’re excited to once again collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on an initiative that takes the impact of Disneynature’s storytelling to an entirely new level,” said Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios. “The health of our oceans is absolutely vital to the well-being of our planet and thanks to the supporters of Disneynature’s motion picture ‘Oceans,’ this investment in marine conservation will help ensure critical aquatic environments will thrive for future generations.”
“Disneynature has captured the beauty, wonder and fragility of our world’s marine habitats and species in ‘Oceans,’ said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “We appreciate Disney’s commitment to help protect marine areas in The Bahamas, which is home to 30 percent of all coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. With Disneynature’s support, The Nature Conservancy and its partners are making significant progress toward our ambitious goal of doubling the total amount of marine protected area in The Bahamas.”
Amid sunny skies at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, nearly a hundred Disney Cast Members gathered early this morning to show their support of the American Red Cross and give a ray of hope to the people of Haiti.
Over the last few weeks, approximately 1,700 individual Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members raised more than $47,000 for the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund through direct contributions from their paychecks. Many donations came from Cast Members who work in Disney Resorts; they have found the effort especially meaningful as many been directly impacted by the tragedy in Haiti.
“I would love to be in Haiti to help out my family and friends but until I can get there, I do what I can to help from here,” said Wendy Richard, who works as a Cast Service Specialist at Disney’s All-Star Resort. “I am very grateful for this effort and the many Cast Members who contributed together to make it their own cause,” said Richard.
In recognition of the accomplishment, a team of Resorts Cast Members joined by Kevin Myers, vice president of Resort Operations for Walt Disney World Resort, presented a check to Joel Hass, Central Florida CEO of the American Red Cross, along with a gift of more than 1,700 Mickey Mouse plush dolls – one for each Cast Member who donated – for use in their disaster relief efforts involving children. With a smile, Myers noted this is just one example of the care and compassion that Disney Cast Members show the world and each other.
“To see Disney Cast Members giving of themselves to our efforts is just wonderful,” said Joel Hass, Central Florida CEO of the American Red Cross. “This money will go to use right away in helping us in Haiti take care of victims with food, clothing, whatever they need – their immediate humanitarian needs.”
Offering to help with the American Red Cross efforts is just one of many ways that Disney Cast Members and The Walt Disney Company are extending support to the people of Haiti. The Walt Disney Company has committed $100,000 in humanitarian aid through the Red Cross International Fund to support relief efforts and is working closely with Cast Members from Haiti to accommodate their needs. Additionally, Disney VoluntEARS have been instrumental behind-the-scenes by lending their support to the “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon and Clean the World recycling efforts in Disney Resorts.
Walt Disney World Resort hotels are working with Clean the World to recycle all the partially used amenities from their nearly 28,000 Central Florida hotel rooms. Clean the World sanitizes the soap and shampoo that would be discarded and distributes these amenities to people in need around the world.
“With the support of Walt Disney World, even more supplies will reach those in desperate need,” said Paul Till, co-founder and managing director of Clean the World, who is responsible for recruiting new hotels to join the “Clean the World Hospitality Recycling Program.” Through this program, hotels financially contribute a tax-deductible recycling fee in exchange for collection, recycling and free redistribution of partially-used amenities to those suffering due to a lack of available hygiene products. In 2009, Clean the World distributed more than 230 tons of hygiene products to countries worldwide including Haiti, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uganda, Mali, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mongolia and Romania.
By participating in this program, Walt Disney World Resort hotels are showing a commitment to saving lives and protecting the environment.
In 2009, Clean the World delivered 200,000 bars of soap to schools, orphanages, clinics and churches in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Though its Haitian partnerships and distribution network, Clean the World is providing free soap to people in desperate need for proper hygiene. In Haiti alone, 8,000 children die annually from diarrheal disease, which is preventable by up to 62% with proper hand washing.