Today was all about volunteering at Walt Disney World.
Through celebrity appearances, a media event focused on assembling care packages for Haitians affected by the January earthquake, and a celebration of families across North America who went above and beyond for others, the real difference volunteers make was emphasized at every turn.
Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” campaign encourages residents of the Unites States, Puerto Rico and Canada to volunteer for a day at an approved charity (enter your postal code here to find eligible charities in your area) in return for a one-day ticket to a Disney park.
More than 600,000 people have signed up to volunteer in the first six weeks of the campaign, according to the chairman of Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts, Tom Staggs.
“Even we have been overwhelmed,” he said. “When people volunteer, it makes them feel good and they want to do it again and again. That is something worth celebrating.”
Families from across North America were chosen by Disney to be honoured at the park this morning for “giving back to their communities in special ways.”
Ty Pennington celebrates volunteerism with Mickey & co.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ty Pennington, Kermit the Frog and Mickey Mouse were on hand at Epcot to congratulate the families.
“I can tell you, giving back not only changes the lives of others, but changes volunteers in ways they can’t imagine,” said Pennington.
Later, a sculpture made of 115,000 cans of food, representing 70,000 meals, and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest structure of canned food was unveiled. The sculpture showed a curious Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Donald the Duck and Goofy peering over a wall with shovels in hand. Disassembled later in the day, the cans were distributed through central Florida and Miami.
A sculpture made of 115,000 canned goods is unveiled at Epcot.
Later, members of the media gathered to donate an hour to pack relief kits to be sent to Haiti and pot trees that will be planted locally. Though it was a small task, lending a hand to the efforts and knowing that my contribution would make a real difference in a community was truly a great feeling.
Robert Irvine talks volunteerism.
After the sun went down, making a chilly Florida day downright cold, both media and volunteer families were treated to a meal by Food Network host Robert Irvine. Irvine was filming an episode of his Dinner: Impossible program. In a limited amount of time, Disney staffers told me he would have to prepare a meal for more than 1,600 people.
As usual, Irvine pulled off the task and gave us an interesting Disney princess-inspired menu that included barbeque pork belly, macaroni and cheese, gyros, and cheesecake. He later took to the stage to thank the volunteers who had helped him prepare the meal.
Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas perform for volunteer families.
Joe Jonas of the popular Jonas Brothers band had the teens in the crowd screaming after dinner when he spoke about his involvement in Disney’s Project Green before performing “Make a Wave” with Disney starlet Demi Lovato. The unreleased song was the soundtrack to clips played behind the singers from the upcoming Disneynature movie Oceans, a spectacular documentary about life under Earth’s waters. The movie opens on Earth Day
Though I finish today exhausted, I’m also excited about the great work Disney is doing to encourage even the smallest acts of volunteerism in North America, to help the environment, and to bring attention to real issues facing the Earth and its citizens.
As Staggs said, “With each of your efforts, you make a difference.”
- Nicole Feenstra