August marked not only the end of summer, but for many, it was back to school time. A time of excitement, a time for personal growth, and a time for letting go (that one is for the parents). No matter if you are the parent or the student, we can probably all agree that it is also a time of stress, a lot of which comes from having to prepare back to school supplies.
Whether this was your first time, or one of many, the adventure of combing through the list of supplies needed is probably not in your top ten list of favorite things to do, especially since we all know that school supplies can get quite expensive. This year though, like years before, the Central Florida Community showed their support by giving back and supporting teachers and students in several counties surrounding Walt Disney World.
This year, I got to participate in several Back to School Volunteer opportunities, and I have to admit that as a parent and a friend of several teachers, I couldn’t have been prouder of the time, talent, and treasure people in this community put forward.
The volunteer fun for me began with a Back to School event offered at the HOPE CommUnity center, a service learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities. HOPE invited families to join them for a backpack giveaway, eye and basic health screenings, and more. Over 25 Disney VoluntEARs helped pack and deliver over 400 backpacks full of school supplies, totaling over 9,633 items, with a value of over $17,000!
As the daughter of immigrant parents, I remember being that student, getting ready to go back to school and my parents not being familiar with all that was needed to go back to school. Being able to guide these families through the process, speak their language, and hand them the backpacks full of supplies and seeing the relief on their faces, made me realize how impactful a little help can be.
My Disney VoluntEAR efforts continued as I, along with several other cast members, was able to support A Gift For Teaching in their annual telethon. The telethon, which aired on local WKMG, ran for over fourteen (14) hours and raised over $33,500! Participating in a live telethon was quite the experience, and I am not going to lie, being on television was a lot of fun. The best part, however, was taking those calls and donations and listening to the stories and the reasons as to why they were calling in to donate.
Partners cast members also put forward their volunteer efforts by collecting over 800 items and donating them to over six (6) schools within the Orange and Osceola counties.
I am sure we can all agree that the generosity of the people in our communities is one to be cherished, and I am sure the students in our community will forever be appreciative. I look forward to being able to continue and expand these efforts next year.