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Giving Back at Disney

When you think of Disney you may think of the Theme Parks worldwide or maybe some of your favorite movies. This company has done many things that make memories for families all over.

 

There’s so much more to Disney than just this. There are volunteers that are Cast Members or those who just love Disney who are making a difference all over.

 

Shelby Grasser shared with Disney Parks Blog some of the differences that Disney is making in the community and around the world.

 

Happy New Year! As we start 2022, we are grateful for the cast and community partners who helped us make a difference last year – with food and financial donations, gifts of books and toys for children in need, Disney VoluntEARS events and so much more.

Magic comes in all sizes, from simple acts of kindness to grand gestures of generosity. Today, I’m proud to share a few of our favorite magical moments of giving from the year.

From Our Kitchens to Our Communities

In 2021, Disney teams around the world sought ways to address food insecurity in their communities. In fact, we reached the milestone of donating more than $14.6 million worth of food to hunger-relief organizations globally since March 2020 – the equivalent of more than 2.1 million meals! Here are some of our favorite food donation stories from the year: 

Disney VoluntEARS at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
  • Walt Disney World Resort donated $500,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida – which was among the $3 million the resort granted in honor of its 50th anniversary to important causes in the community.
  • Disneyland Resort provided more than 90,000 meals to the Orange County community in 2021. 
  • On a sweet note, this past March, Disney Signature Experiences gave more than 350,000 pieces of Ghirardelli chocolate to Eastern Florida State College, Health First Foundation, and Brevard Sharing Center.
Disneyland Paris cast members and VoluntEARS distributed 145,000 pizzas to a local food bank
  • Disneyland Paris has donated nearly 400 tons of food during the year – everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to baked treats and sweets, to personal pizzas.
Cast members and VoluntEARS at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort prepare healthy cooked meals as part of the Disney Meal Box Express
  • Hong Kong Disneyland joined with Foodlink Foundation to launch Disney Meal Box Express. Since June 2021, the program has provided an estimated 12,000 healthy, freshly cooked meal boxes to those most impacted by the pandemic across four Hong Kong districts. The donations are prepared every Thursday by more than 200 Disney VoluntEARS and the Food & Beverage team.

Sharing Stories, Spreading Joy

We also worked to delight fans and families through donations of books, toys and more.

Disney VoluntEARS at Toys for Tots Drive at Disneyland Resort with plastic-free packed Merida classic doll

Celebrating Magic Makers

While the last year and a half have been challenging for many, people across the country have stepped up to help others in remarkable ways. We worked to shine a light on the people whose good deeds spark everyday magic, at Disney and beyond. 

Disney Magic Maker Principal James Gordon and his family
  • We searched the nation to find 50 amazing Disney Magic Makers and reward them with a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in celebration of its 50th anniversary and a one-year subscription to Disney+. These incredible Disney Magic Makers showed us that we all have the power to make a difference: the friendship of two women in Ohio sparked a vaccine revolution for elderly and at-risk members of their community; local heroes in Utah, Illinois and California showed that the good deeds of one person can affect an entire community; an elementary school principal inspired a fundraising campaign that raised enough for 5 students to receive full academic scholarships to their local HBCU; a high schooler in Ohio and a college student in Rhode Island proved that you can bring awareness to the causes you care about at any age; and in celebration of the inaugural World Princess Week, we discovered women from all corners of the nation whose acts of service embody the temperament of a Disney hero.
  • Cast members at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa have kept the aloha spirit alive for the Oahu community, and we recognized Nate Rhodes as the first-ever cast member Magic Maker for helping the Boys and Girls Club Hale Pono Clubhouse in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawai’i. Nate gathered fellow Aulani cast members to volunteer and help the club offer daily meal distribution for club member families as well as programming and educational resources. When Nate noticed the club’s landscaping needed maintenance, he helped get lawn equipment donated and volunteered to trim and mow the grass.
  • Disneyland Paris cast members have also stepped up to meet community needs, such as Cyril and Olivier, who 3D-printed more than 500 face shields for medical staff at local hospitals and clinics and school teachers in the community.
  • Over the past two years, Shanghai Disney Resort has distributed thousands of park tickets to healthcare workers and first responders and hosted several special appreciation events to showcase their contributions during the pandemic, including special fireworks shows with “thank you” projected onto the park’s Enchanted Storybook Castle in Chinese, English and other languages.

As we reflect on a year of giving back and celebrate the donation of more than $52 million in food, products, and supplies since March 2020, we’d like to share a heartfelt thank you with all those who helped us make a difference in 2021, and who brought hope and inspiration to their communities in ways big and small. To all the guests, community partners, and cast members who gave their time and talents to support others in 2021 – cheers to you!

We can’t wait to share more magic with our communities next year. From all of us at Disney, happy holidays!

There will be lots more opportunities to give back in 2022, so if you missed any of these, don’t worry; you’ll have a chance to be a part of making a difference.

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About Tricia Kennedy

Tricia lives in Orlando and loves having Walt Disney World pretty much in her backyard. She can be found at Disney several times a week. She will often stop by a park for an hour or two, but she also enjoys spending a whole day there with her friends. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Tricia especially enjoys Star Tours and has ridden over 200 times. If Tricia is not at the parks she's out playing drums or with her dog Yoda.