Give a Day, Get a Disney Day – Gone Too Soon

animal_volunteerI’ve been meaning to share my tips about Give a Day, Get a Disney Day, but Disney has (unexpectedly) reached their intended one million volunteers and ended the program. I’ll save my full experiences for another post, but I am joining other voices in asking Disney to recommit with another million (or more) volunteers.

I was in attendance at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration this past February. One of the events we participated in was the official press kick-off of the Give a Day, Get a Disney Day program. They had chosen volunteer families representing each of the states to come to Disney World, receive recognition and participate in a large volunteer activity. Although I wasn’t there as an “official” volunteer, I was actually one of the million Give a Day, Get a Disney Day participants (see my badge?!) and it was an amazing experience all around. It was interesting to be there as a member of the press AND as a volunteer. I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.

My volunteer activity was actually pretty simple. A local YMCA needed help with set up, serving and clean up for a spaghetti dinner. The event was fun and I enjoyed chatting with the kids and their families. The staff told me that they rarely have any help at all and were surprised by how quickly we had things ready to go. We ended up standing around for almost an hour before the event began because the work was done in half the time. While there, I also had a chance to talk with some of the other Give a Day volunteers. One of the families I volunteered with chooses to volunteer on a regular basis. They were considering donating their Disney tickets to charity. One of the women at the event committed to becoming a long-term volunteer with the organization. Although none of us had met, we bonded over our shared experience with the program. And we had fun asking each other about our planned Disney trips.

I chose to use my ticket to get an early start to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Upon collecting my free Disney ticket at the Magic Kingdom, I received a “VoluntEAR!” badge. Everywhere I went in the park, Disney Cast Members asked about my volunteer activity and thanked me for giving back. I know it’s their job, but as a solo traveler, I really appreciated their comments. I was even offered a special after dinner treat as a thank you for my volunteer work. I didn’t do it for that reason, but it’s so nice to be recognized even when you aren’t looking for it.

Volunteerism is a part of my life. I don’t always have the time to commit to big projects, but I try to help out now and again as I can. I believe in giving back to the community and I think it’s essential to think of others besides yourself and your immediate family. I didn’t need Disney to convince me that volunteering is important. But Disney pulled off something I didn’t expect. They made volunteering feel magical, too.

I hope that Disney will bring back Give a Day, Get a Disney Day, or even offer some continued incentive for volunteering, such as the special Fast Pass exchange card.

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