Disney VoluntEARS Earn $627,050 for Central Florida Non-Profits

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Throughout August, The Walt Disney Company is donating $627,050 to the Central Florida community in recognition of the 251,000 hours given by Walt Disney World Resort VoluntEARS in 2009. From schools to shelters, Cast Members selected approximately 250 local non-profit agencies and community service groups to receive Disney’s EARS to You grants. Top recipients include Orange County Public Schools, A Better Life Pet Rescue and local chapters of the American Cancer Society.

“Disney VoluntEARS enjoy sharing their time and talents and have a vested interest in making Central Florida an even better place for all who live in our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations, Walt Disney World Resort. “The collective contributions of these Cast Members are impressive and impactful; they are truly making a difference during a time when it’s needed most.”

The Walt Disney Company, through the Disney VoluntEARS program, provides opportunities for Cast Members to give their time and expertise toward positively impacting their communities. Each year, the Company recognizes VoluntEARS who donate at least 10 hours of service with EARS to You grants, which are financial contributions of up to $1,000 to the non-profit organization of their choice.

This year, Walt Disney World Resort awarded more than 800 EARS to You grants. Disney dollars will go toward a wide array of worthy causes including local youth development groups, health and social services programs, environmental causes, community theatres and pet rescue organizations.

Disney VoluntEAR Maria Kirkland received an EARS to You grant of $500 for her active support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. “I feel very fortunate to be able to provide not only my time but a financial contribution to such a worthy organization,” said Kirkland. “It makes me feel so wonderful to know that I was able to help a family or individual to have one less stress in their life.”

Exceptional Disney VoluntEARS Receive Honors

Walt Disney World Resort annually recognizes its top VoluntEARS with coveted awards and charitable contributions. In June, high honors were given to Steve Luttrell as 2009 VoluntEAR of the Year and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort VoluntEARS Team as the 2009 VoluntEAR Team of the Year. Both received $2,500 cash donations to the charity of their choice.

  • 2009 VoluntEAR of the Year: Steve Luttrell

By day, Steve Luttrell works as a member of Disney’s Engineering Services team. Nights and weekends, you’ll find him on the baseball field, helping kids learn the values of teamwork and sportsmanship. Luttrell has dedicated hundreds of service hours to Dr. Phillips Little League and has changed the lives of hundreds of youth during his six seasons of involvement. Known for maintaining composure under pressure, Luttrell coaches young boys and their parents beyond the basics of baseball and demonstrates the importance of personal responsibility. A donation of $2,500 was given to the Dr. Phillips Little League in honor of Luttrell.

  • 2009 VoluntEAR Team of the Year: Disney’s Vero Beach Resort VoluntEARS Team

A small but powerful team, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort VoluntEARS Team increased their Cast Member participation from 51% to 89% within a year, completing 29 projects in Indian River County in 2009. Activities range from a Habitat for Humanity build to a March of Dimes walk to involving youth in a beach cleanup event to help them gain environmental awareness. In honor of the team, $2,500 was donated to the March of Dimes Treasure Coast Division.

Additionally, 617 Disney VoluntEARS who contributed more than 100 hours of service during 2009 also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House. The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a presidential recognition program for Americans of all ages who volunteer a minimum of 100 hours during the year. Award recipients receive a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, a lapel pin and a personalized certificate.

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