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By:Dole Whip Diva


Each of those little stars represent a person who has stayed at GKTW. This is one of several rooms covered in stars!

img_8493Give Kids the World offers a unique way to experience Walt Disney World, though it’s one no family ever wants to have. When a child with a life-threatening illness wishes to visit Disney World, they stay at Give Kids the World Village in Orlando. Give Kids the World is a non-profit resort specifically designated for these kids and their families. The vacation is completely cost free and includes park tickets to Orlando’s most popular theme parks, including Disney World. To give a little perspective, half of the children eligible for a wish, choose to visit Central Florida. GKTW has hosted over 146,000 families since the charity’s inception in 1986. While there is nothing more magical than walking down Main Street USA, spending a day at GKTW is a close second. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer there three times.

Give Kids the World village feels like its own little theme park. There is a swimming pool, a playground, a miniature golf course, an ice cream parlor that is open all day, and Amberville, which is an interactive train station and arcade.  Holidays are celebrated all in the one week stay at GKTW.  Give Kids the World has entertainment every night of the week, so when you aren’t in the parks, there are still plenty of options. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to help with some of these events.

Amberville, the interactive train station and arcade.

Amberville, the interactive train station and arcade.

I have worked in the cafeteria and one of their nightly events. I loved working in the cafeteria, but it was slightly stressful (we worked breakfast) and the events have more opportunities for interaction with the kids.

Give Kids the World boasts the largest Candyland board. Naturally, every week they play a giant game of Candyland. I have worked this party twice, and sadly, both times it has been moved inside to inclement weather. As a volunteer, you can also deliver pizza, work in the ice cream parlor, the carousel, and many other areas around the resort. Volunteering at GKTW is so much fun, it’s like being a guest!

Ice cream is available to guests ALL DAY

Ice cream is available to guests ALL DAY

To volunteer, you need to fill out an application here. You must also undergo a background check, have proof of valid state issued ID (minors must have their parents fill out this separate form), and receive orientation upon check-in. GKTW has rules in place to protect the kids, and you will be adequately trained for your volunteer position.

The experiences I have had at Give Kids the World are ones I wouldn’t trade for the world. From watching a boy completely confined to a wheelchair smile as he plays a game of Candyland, to twirling with a young girl dressed as a princess. We got a chance to visit the on-site chapel and hear a story about a couple who met while they were staying at GKTW and then later came back to that chapel to be married. It’s truly a magical place filled with joy and hope. I’ve never spent a day there and not seen smiles on every person’s face; from the full time staff to the guests. I love Walt Disney World, and volunteering at Give Kids the World is a chance to bring magic to those who deserve and extra dose.

If you would like more information on Give Kids the World and how you can create magic for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, visit their website here.