D23 Expo: Disney VoluntEARS Program Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Projects

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To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Disney VoluntEARS program, Disney Citizenship invites fans and families to give back to their communities as ‘honorary’ VoluntEARS for the day at the D23 Expo. The Ultimate Disney Fan Event takes places August 9 – 11 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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Walt Disney World VoluntEARS to Feed Homeless on Thanksgiving

Disney VoluntEARs at Coalition for the HomelessClose to 600 people will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Coalition for the Homeless on Thursday – thanks to Chef Tony Marotta and his team at Walt Disney World Resort.

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.

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Walt Disney World Cast Members Pen Postcards for Troops

Disney VoluntEARS write postcards to the troopsWhile the nation takes time this Veterans Day to honor those who have served in the armed forces, Disney VoluntEARS have been busy sending their regards through Operation Uplift.

Operation Uplift was founded in 1995 by a Disneyland Cast Member after reading a letter from a soldier during Operation Desert Storm explaining that troops didn’t receive much mail.

Since that time, Disney VoluntEARS around the country have sent more than 90,000 postcards of support, encouragement and thanks to servicemen and servicewomen serving domestically and overseas.

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Walt Disney World Donates $500,000, Food to Second Harvest Food Bank

Minnie Mouse and VoluntEARs at Second HarvestMinnie 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.

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Disneyland Teams with KaBOOM! and Others to Build Playground Designed by Children

Mickey and Minnie join children and volunteers who built new playground (Rob Sparacio/Disneyland)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.

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Walt Disney World VoluntEARS Donate Over 2,000 Teddy Bears via ‘Dress-A-Bear’ Program

Walt Disney World Ambassadors Vanessa Rosas and Clay Shoemaker with Dress-A-Bear donationsA 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.

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Walt Disney World VoluntEARS Donate 20,000 Toys to Toys for Tots Program

Mickey Mouse and Duffy the Bear deliver donated toys to 'Toys for Tots'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.

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Disney VoluntEARS Share Holiday Cheer Year-round at Coalition for the Homeless Central Florida

Walt Disney World VoluntEARS serve meals at the Coalition for the HomelessWalt Disney World VoluntEARS prepare and serve nearly 750 meals a month at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, a tradition that spans at least a decade and one of many ways that Disney lends a helping hand at the Coalition, which provides food and shelter to approximately 650 people a night. Many of them are families with children.

The Walt Disney World Resort takes care of dinner service twice monthly at the Coalition. When a holiday falls on the schedule, Disney chefs find great delight in making the meals even more magical.

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Walt Disney World Cast Members Donate Over Two Million School Supplies to Area Students

Walt Disney World Cast Member VoluntEars prepare record setting school supply donations. Photo courtesy DisneyWalt Disney World Cast Members are lending a helping hand to Central Florida students in need this week by giving them the right supplies to start the upcoming school year with confidence. Stocking up on boxes of crayons, rulers, folders and packs of notebook paper, Disney Cast Members hit an all-time high by donating more than 2 million school supplies through Walt Disney World Resort’s annual back-to-school supply drive.

“I’m so proud of our Cast Members who gave a record number of school supplies to benefit our community, which is encountering a record level of need,” says Nancy Gidusko, director of Community Relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “By contributing these back-to-school basics, Disney Cast Members are making a difference in the lives of many local students and reaching more students, teachers and classrooms than ever before.”

This week, hundreds of Disney VoluntEARS sorted school supplies and distributed them to local students and teachers through partnerships with A Gift For Teaching and S.T.A.R.S. (Supplies to Assist Our Students). The annual campaign expanded beyond Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties this year to include Lake and Polk counties.

On Tuesday, Disney VoluntEARS gave nearly 1 million school supplies – ranging from pencils to scissors – to A Gift For Teaching. Walt Disney World Resort’s donation is annually the largest contribution received by the organization. Local teachers can pick up the supplies year-around through A Gift For Teaching’s free store, which benefits students in need in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

“With their substantial donations, Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members are at the forefront of helping us collect as many school supplies as we can for students in struggling families and the teachers that are compelled to help them,” said Jane Thompson, president of A Gift For Teaching.

Later this week, Disney VoluntEARS will distribute 6,460 backpacks, filled with 1.3 million school supplies, through S.T.A.R.S. The backpacks will be given to students at 13 Orange County public elementary schools in areas of high need.

“Disney is making a difference in the lives of thousands of young local students by donating the necessities for school,” says Chesta Hembrooke, president and founder of S.T.A.R.S.  “For many, the backpacks are the only new item they receive to start the school year.”

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Disney to Donate $627,050 to Central Florida Community in August in Recognition of Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS Work in 2009

Walt Disney World Cast Member VoluntEARS celebrate the 2010 EARS To You Program. Photo courtesy DisneyThroughout August, The Walt Disney Company is donating $627,050 to the Central Florida community in recognition of the 251,000 hours given by Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS in 2009. From schools to shelters, Cast Members selected approximately 250 local non-profit agencies and community service groups to receive Disney’s EARS to You grants. Top recipients include Orange County Public Schools, A Better Life Pet Rescue and local chapters of the American Cancer Society.

“Disney VoluntEARS enjoy sharing their time and talents and have a vested interest in making Central Florida an even better place for all who live in our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations, Walt Disney World Resort. “The collective contributions of these Cast Members are impressive and impactful; they are truly making a difference during a time when it’s needed most.”

The Walt Disney Company, through the Disney VoluntEARS program, provides opportunities for Cast Members to give their time and expertise toward positively impacting their communities. Each year, the Company recognizes VoluntEARS who donate at least 10 hours of service with EARS to You grants, which are financial contributions of up to $1,000 to the non-profit organization of their choice.

This year, Walt Disney World Resort awarded more than 800 EARS to You grants. Disney dollars will go toward a wide array of worthy causes including local youth development groups, health and social services programs, environmental causes, community theatres and pet rescue organizations.

Disney VoluntEAR Maria Kirkland received an EARS to You grant of $500 for her active support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “I feel very fortunate to be able to provide not only my time but a financial contribution to such a worthy organization,” said Kirkland. “It makes me feel so wonderful to know that I was able to help a family or individual to have one less stress in their life.”

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