Jason & I were thrilled to be invited to the 2015 Give Kids the World Blogger Bash. It was truly an honor not only to be invited, but to get the opportunity to learn more about Give Kids the World.
It’s easy to say “Oh yeah, the Give Kids the World Village is just down the road, cool!” and to see the kids from the Village visiting the theme parks, but this experience allowed us to get to know the families and village personally, and it was such an amazing & humbling experience.
What makes Give Kids the World so special?
I couldn’t believe my eyes when we entered the gates. GKTW is literally a village! Families that stay at the Village stay in one of 144 themed 2 bedroom/2 bathroom villas. In the village you’ll also find a carousel, trains of all sizes (and one you can ride!), an ice cream parlor, Town Hall, and more!
GKTW NEVER turns down a request. Ever. If a qualifying child between the ages of 3 & 17 has a dream to visit Central Florida, GKTW makes it happen. They’ve hosted 138,000 kids since 1986! GKTW hosts so many families that they can’t keep them all on property, meaning that each year 700 families stay off property at local hotels. GKTW is in the middle of an expansion that is creating 24 more villas, with even more room to expand in the future.
When kids visit the Village they are taken away from the world of doctors and hospitals and for one whole week they can just be a kid. At the village no one stares at you because you look different. No one asks insensitive questions. Everyone “gets it” and the whole focus is on the child and their happiness. It’s a really wonderful and magical place where love rules.
Snow in Central Florida? Yup! Every Thursday is Christmas at GKTW Village, complete with a present from Santa & snow! Not only that, but every Monday is Halloween, every Tuesday is a birthday party, every Wednesday is Village Idol day, and every single Friday is a pirate & princess pool party (say that 5 times fast!)
These week-long vacations are all-inclusive. Tickets to the theme parks and transportation are provided, even the food is provided! One of the coolest things is the partnerships GKTW has with local businesses. Every day food is provided by Krispy Kreme, Papa Johns Pizza, Boston Market, and other local businesses but there is no branding so in no part of your vacation are you made to feel like you are accepting charity! Your kids aren’t seeing Papa Johns boxes everywhere, no, they’re eating at Mama Mary’s Pizzeria. I think this is what impressed me the most!
138,000 kids since 1986 seems like a large number, doesn’t it? It is a fantastic number, but it doesn’t nearly meet the need. Each year in the United States 30,000 children are diagnosed with a serious illness, and of them over half have the wish to visit the Central Florida theme parks.
What can I do to help?
Volunteer! Become one of the 15,000 angels who volunteers at the village! 84% of GKTW volunteers perform a job that would have to be a paid position if it weren’t for the kindness of volunteers! GKTW accepts volunteers of all ages and it’s a great opportunity for Florida high school students who need their volunteer hours for Bright Futures.
Donate! Personal and business donations are accepted and GKTW can even help you with fundraising ideas! Running an endeavor like GKTW isn’t inexpensive, and even though they receive $17million in cash donations (and $24million in in-kind donations) they are in need of more so they can help more kids! Not only can you donate, but you can participate in fundraisers such as a the O-Town Mac Down, the world’s finest macaroni & cheese competition!
Eat ice cream! What, ice cream? Yes! Join Kevin Bacon in donating just $6 to GKTW as part of the ice cream challenge!
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out these pictures of the village so you can see exactly what GKTW does for their families. It’s an amazing organization that I plan to partner with much more in the future.
Click photos to enlarge