“Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” – a first-of-its-kind program of Disney Parks – reached its goal of inspiring 1 million people in 2010 to give back to their communities through volunteer service in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Since the program started just 10 weeks ago, on Jan. 1, a million people already have volunteered or have committed to volunteer in their communities, according to Disney Parks and HandsOn Network, the nation’s largest volunteer network and a facilitator of “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day.” To celebrate the good deeds of these individuals, Disney Parks offered each volunteer who completed an eligible project a free one-day admission to one theme park in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland Resort in California. Although registration is now closed and the program has ended, those who volunteered have until Dec. 15, 2010, to redeem their free park ticket (certain block-out dates apply).
“By any measure, the ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ program exceeded our expectations,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “These one million volunteers touched their communities with their hearts and hands. Their commitment to service is truly worth celebrating, and there’s no better place to celebrate than at Disney Parks.”
Volunteerism has been a part of the Disney culture since the beginning. Through Disney VoluntEARS, cast members have been giving back to communities for more than a quarter century. More than 5.5 million hours of volunteer service worldwide have been donated, and Disney’s commitment to volunteerism will continue even as “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” draws to a close.
Officials at HandsOn Network credited the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” program for increasing volunteer activities this year.
“The innovative nature of this program has exponentially increased our capacity to both invite and excite people about volunteerism,” said Michelle Nunn, co-founder of HandsOn Network and CEO of Points of Lights Institute. “The overwhelming participation of families – and youth especially – is a testament to a growing trend. Many of these volunteers are serving for the first time, and some will develop into service leaders who help change the face of our nation.”
Encouraging that kind of commitment was one aim of the Disney program, Staggs said.
“The goal of the ‘Give a Day, Get a Disney Day’ program was to lay the groundwork for a new spirit of volunteerism,” he said. “The need for volunteers across the country is ongoing. We look forward to more people, especially families, carrying on the momentum and giving back to their communities through volunteerism.”
Neighborhoods in need were the big beneficiaries of “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” – from San Juan to San Diego, Vero Beach to Vancouver. In Puerto Rico, 500 volunteers cleaned the beaches of Vaciatalega and La Perla located in the vicinity of Old San Juan. In Oakville, Ontario, a neighborhood center got new shelving and a spruced-up mural.
In Boston, volunteers served meals to people in need, knitted and crocheted scarves and mittens for children afflicted with life-threatening illnesses and helped as caregivers at an animal adoption center. In California, San Francisco Bay-area volunteers helped with basic English lessons, painted park benches and planted flowers.
In Jacksonville, Fla., volunteers painted murals and spruced up rooms at a home for women and children, while in Pittsburgh they took on construction tasks – tiling, sanding, staining and painting – to help create affordable housing.Although the program has ended and a free Disney theme park ticket will no longer be provided, those still interested in volunteering may search for opportunities through HandsOn Network at HandsOnNetwork.org (or in Canada, at govolunteer.ca).