Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a volunteer at the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee. This was an item on both my 2012 and 2013 bucket lists, but last year I never managed to get the time off to do it. In a previous blog post, I mentioned that this was the one item I was determined to check off this year, so I’m really happy to have done that.
Give Kids the World (GKTW) is a nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. GKTW works with hundreds of wish-granting charities (such as the wonderful Make-A-Wish Foundation) who coordinate families’ stays at the resort. Then the fantastic people at GKTW give the families staying there donated tickets to theme parks, like Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios, so they can enjoy what Orlando has to offer during their vacation here.
GKTW Village looks like a little neighbourhood, it actually reminded me of home. The families stay in accessible housing, individual units that look like houses. Families stay for a week and can visit Orlando theme parks—that being said, the GKTW Village is much like an amazing little theme park itself. Everything there is complimentary for the families staying, including a Gingerbread House Restaurant (where families eat cafeteria-style meals served by volunteers) and Ice Cream Palace (which opens at 7:30 am so families can enjoy ice cream for breakfast!). The entire stay is complimentary, so these families can enjoy a week without worrying about money.
Every night at the resort has a different theme and there are activities that go with that theme accordingly. Last night’s theme was Candy Land, which was a lot of fun. Myself and the other volunteers were assigned to run little games with the families. Each family was given a card, similar to a Bingo card, and after they did an activity the volunteer would fill in a square for them.
There were lots of different activities, such as: Tootsie Roll Bowling (knock over pins with a giant pillow Tootsie Roll), Candy Ring Toss (toss a ring onto a blanket covered with candy and keep whatever is inside your ring) and Candy Riddles.
I was a Candy Riddler; I wore a rainbow apron and a riddle around my neck. My candy clue was: “Round flotation devices.” If needed, I gave extra hints: a small candy, comes in many different colours, sold in a little tube-shape, tastes like a sucker… The answer is lifesavers! Some people got it right away, others not at all (including a couple of British families who told me they do not have Lifesavers where they come from, so there was a bit of a disadvantage there).
I had a lot of fun being a Candy Riddler and talking to the families was awesome. I had a really great experience with Give Kids the World, it is an amazing organization run by fantastic people. All of the people who work there are warm, kind and friendly. They’re all so enthusiastic about the work they do—and they do great work. I am planning on volunteering with Give Kids the World as much as I can this summer. I love to volunteer, but I especially love working with kids, so this opportunity was just perfect. I also met a lot of great CP’s and ICP’s (5/8 people volunteering with me were from Canada—go figure) and it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday night.
Next time I go, I’ll be sure to capture it on camera! It’s really tough to explain just how whimsical the place is without photos.
Anyway, all of this goes to say that if you have the opportunity to volunteer with Give Kids the World (either as a Florida local or as part of your Disney experience), do it! I am so glad I did.