Ninety-five cents of every dollar donated to Give Kids the World goes to supporting children. This is crucial for an organization that strives to do just what its name implies. Give Kids the World (GKTW), a non-profit 51-acre facility for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, provides a week-long vacation to Central Florida for more than 4,000 families each year. Volunteers run the resort and vacations include accommodations, attraction tickets and meals, at no cost to the family.
The list of accomplishments of volunteers at GKTW is extensive. In 1998 alone, GKTW volunteers filled 617 volunteer shifts each week, served 125,000 meals in the Gingerbread House (the dining area), spent 1,460 hours operating the carousel, performed approximately 105,000 hours of volunteer service and greeted the 4,069 GKTW families at the airport. Not only do the volunteers reach out to children from around the world who visit the resort, they are an integral part of the Kids Club program that hosts monthly events for the children.
GKTW strives to prevent the resort from becoming an isolated area by reaching out to address social problems. For example, there is an eight-week volunteer endeavor sponsored by the Churches Voluntary Bureau. The event brings together about 18 Protestants and Catholics from Ireland to foster an understanding between the groups and to promote peace in Ireland. GKTW also recruits volunteers from several age groups, including college students through the Walt Disney World College Program. These students are encouraged to volunteer at GKTW and keep the spirit alive by volunteering when they return to college.
A 16-acre expansion is now under way for the GKTW village that includes 42 additional villas, a train-themed activity center, an ice cream palace, movie theater and a go-cart track. GKTW pledges to bring this service to terminally ill children for as long as there is a need. As long as there are sick children whose eyes light up at the sight of a magical place filled with color, rather than the dull whitewash of hospital walls, GKTW volunteers will work tirelessly to make their dreams come true.