Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Year to Volunteer

by Paul Ruben

Recently I was at Florida’s Walt Disney World as the Disney launched a promotion to celebrate the spirit of volunteer service called Give a Day, Get a Disney Day. The aim is to inspire families to volunteer in their communities by rewarding them with a free one-day admission to a Disney park in the United States.

Within 10 weeks Disney had reached its goal of inspiring one million people to give back to their communities. It was a great idea from a company with a social conscience. Good for Disney.

As part of the kick-off event, Walt Disney World Resort unveiled a mammoth structure of canned goods, a can-ucopia of food that was subsequently donated to food banks in Orlando, Miami and Atlanta. Pictured behind me with a larger-than-life Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto, the sculpture was made out of 115,527 cans. Goofy’s trademark hat consisted of cans of breadcrumbs, for instance. Mickey’s famous head was shaped from cans of black olives and cans of sliced pineapple made up Pluto’s eyes.

Last year, Disney offered free admission to those celebrating special moments such as birthdays as part of the What Will You Celebrate promotion. This was something of a landmark event for Disney, and very popular for those families whose members had all been born on the same day. But how many families like that do you know? This year’s promotion, thoughtfully, rewards those who were helpful and therefore deserving of free park admission. Unlike me, who is welcomed simply because of my charming(?) personality.

At the Year to Volunteer launch, we were given the opportunity to plant small trees in pots for re-planting in nearby communities. Now when it comes to gardening, I’m strictly an amateur. But remember, Noah’s Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic was built by professionals.

Putting aside my father’s advice (“If it’s worth doing it’s worth being paid for”), I pitched in although much of what I’ve planted over the years died quickly. We were given little oak tree saplings. They looked dead already, so what harm could I do? I put one in each pot, covered the roots with dirt, and patted it down. It was almost straight. Do trees have to be planted straight up?

Tree planting was fun, but the can sculpture was inspiring. It was so inspiring that when I returned home I decided to see what I could make with the cans in our pantry. It was like making a Lego sculpture with juice cans. I did my best, but I was never very good with Lego bricks either. When I was done I did not take a photo. I was told it looked like a giant social disease.

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