BURBANK, Calif. (April 18, 2002) — Since its inception in 1992, the Disney VoluntEARS program, which develops opportunities for Disney employees to contribute their time, expertise and effort to make a positive impact on the community, has served more than 200 cities, 47 states, and 24 countries on six continents.
To salute its cast members for continuing to support and help those in need in their local communities, The Walt Disney Company will mark the program’s 10th anniversary by establishing EARS to You, a “dollars for do-ers” program in which The Walt Disney Company will make financial contributions to charities based on an employee’s involvement and time commitment. In addition, Disney will introduce the Disney Adventures All-StarsProgram, which challenges children to make a difference in the world by helping their communities.
“Our VoluntEARS program builds upon a philosophy established by our founder, Walt Disney,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Michael D. Eisner. “Walt believed in bringing the same sense of enthusiasm and innovation to the area of community involvement as he did to the realm of entertainment, and I am certain he would be proud of this program and all who participate.”
The program’s origins stem back to Disneyland where, in 1983, in order to meet the needs of the community and because of a desire by Disney Cast Members (employees) to provide meaningful service to the community, the Disneyland Community Action Team (DCAT) was formed. This dedicated group of Disneyland Cast Members assisted many non-profit organizations in the Orange County, Calif. area. Projects were varied and included: being huggers at the Special Olympics; hosting a 5 and 10K Run through Disneyland to raise funds for Orangewood Children’s Home; and hosting a party at a nursing home during the holidays. From that effort, Disney VoluntEARS has emerged as an international, company-wide employee volunteer initiative, logging more than 2,562,654 volunteer hours for local community projects in its 10-year history.
VoluntEARS projects include ABC Television’s ongoing assistance with battered women at the Urban Women’s Retreat in New York; Disneyland Paris’ work with orphanages throughout Europe; The Disney Stores’ involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs and Special Olympics; The Disneyland Resort’s efforts to paint and landscape the homes of shut-in seniors; and The Walt Disney World Resort’s efforts with Give Kids the World, a facility specifically built for families of terminally ill children to stay while visiting Orlando.
Some recent accomplishments include 60 VoluntEARS working with the Ocean Conservancy’s Beach Clean Up event and collecting 2,890 pounds of trash at Port Canaveral, Fla. Cast members from the Walt Disney World Resort donated more than 30,000 pounds of canned goods to the Disney Bountiful Harvest canned-food drive. On the Chinese New Year, Mickey & Minnie together with seven Disney VoluntEARS visited 25 children, ages 3 to 8, at the Po Leung Kuk Orphanage – a very established and respected local orphanage in Hong Kong – to take photos with the children, ride in the Disney Rickshaw and give gifts to the children. And, for the first time in Hong Kong, a team of 30 Disney VoluntEARS carried Mickey Mouse in the annual Sedan Chair Race, a 2km race to benefit the Matilda Hospital Fund for those in need.
Other instances that prove that one VoluntEAR can make a difference include Diane Sampler, a server from Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort, who met Hannah, a 9-year-old guest afflicted with hair loss due to a terminal illness. Diane went home that night and made a lavender headband to give to her. Seeing Hannah’s excitement from the gift inspired Diane to continue making the headbands, aptly titled Hannah’s Headbands, which she now donates to the Give the Kids the World organization and Arnold Palmer Hospital’s Chemotherapy Ward.
Also, Greg Lockwood, business manager for the ABC owned radio stations in Minneapolis, mounted a drive for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society- Minnesota Chapter in their annual Multiple Sclerosis 150 Bike Tour. In one year, he helped this organization by raising $4,500 and this year, he plans to raise $5,800 ($1 for every person diagnosed with MS in his riding area). He also volunteers for Capable Partners, an organization that helps physically challenged individuals experience the great outdoors with activities like camping, boating, fishing and hunting.
DisneyHand, the worldwide outreach program for The Walt Disney Company, is dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through focused public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in areas such as learning, compassion, the arts and the environment. The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified, international family entertainment and media enterprise which includes Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Stores, television and radio stations and Internet web sites. For more information on Disney’s corporate public service efforts, please visit our Web site at www.disneyhand.com.