Disney VoluntEARS Earn $686,950 for Central Florida Nonprofits

From the Walt Disney World News and written by: courtneymills

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., June 14, 2011 – Throughout June, The Walt Disney Company is giving a total of $686,950 to the Central Florida community in recognition of the more than 228,000 hours donated by Walt Disney World VoluntEARS in 2010. Cast members earmarked the funds, known as Disney’s EARS to You grants, for approximately 394 local nonprofits and community service groups. Top recipients include local chapters of the American Cancer Society, Give Kids the World and the SPCA of Central Florida.  

“Disney VoluntEARS give generously of their time and talents, and in doing so, they make Central Florida an even better place for everyone to enjoy,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Walt Disney World Community Relations. “I am incredibly proud of the way Disney cast members share their spirit and inspire all of us to find even more ways to help our neighbors in need.”  

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 887 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.  

Exceptional Disney VoluntEARS Receive Honors  

Walt Disney World Resort annually recognizes its top VoluntEARS with coveted awards and charitable contributions. Today, high honors were given to Judy Hughes as 2010 VoluntEAR of the Year and Disney’s Theme Park Merchandise Team as the 2010 VoluntEAR Team of the Year. Both received $2,500 cash donations to the charity of their choice.  

2010 VoluntEAR of the Year: Judy Hughes
As a project manager on the Walt Disney World human resources team, Judy Hughes knows a lot about what it takes to motivate others and puts it into action. Giving close to 265 volunteer hours last year, Hughes coordinated numerous community service projects for her fellow cast members for the benefit of Heart of Florida United Way, Edgewood Children’s Ranch, Relay for Life and Toys for Tots. Hughes is also a Girl Scout troop leader to 12 Daisies, who she hopes to inspires through her actions.  

“I am very passionate about volunteering and believe it is not only about helping others, but also about helping others get involved,” says Hughes. Besides finding great enjoyment in giving back, Hughes aims to be a role model for her children by showing them “change takes action and that we each have the power to make positive change if we step up and help.

“In honor of Hughes’ efforts, a donation of $2,500 was given to the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council.  

2010 VoluntEAR Team of the Year: Disney’s Theme Park Merchandise Team
Assisting 13 local nonprofits through 17 projects in 2010, Disney’s Theme Park Merchandise Team gave a total of 450 hours toward making a difference in their community.  Activities included conducting food drives for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, collecting pet supplies for the SPCA of Central Florida, giving numerous holiday donations to benefit the Salvation Army and the Osceola County Council on Aging and raising $2,833 for the American Cancer Society through Relay for Life.  

The team’s co-leader Patrice Guy says the group takes great pride in working together to help others in need.

“We continue to ask ourselves and each other – what else could we or should we be doing?,” says Guy. “We truly rely on the entire team to make great things happen!”

In honor of the team, $2,500 was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

Additionally, 609 Disney VoluntEARS who contributed more than 100 hours of service during 2010 also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House. The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a presidential recognition program for Americans of all ages who volunteer a minimum of 100 hours during the year. Award recipients receive a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, a lapel pin and a personalized certificate.

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