Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving
By Rachel Richter
Over Thanksgiving break, I was lucky enough to travel to the Happiest Place on Earth with my family. Our long-awaited family vacation to Disney World was more than I could have ever hoped for. Not only did we spend some time in the Disney parks, but we also had the wonderful opportunity to give back. I am so grateful that we got to travel to Florida as a family, and I will undoubtedly remember this experience for the rest of my life.
My parents, my younger sister, and I love traveling to Disney World, and we had the absolute best time when we were there during the last week of November. The attractions, the restaurants, and the magic blew us away as usual, and we could not have had a better time! Later in the week, my aunt, uncles, and three younger cousins joined us for some Disney magic. Celebrating in Disney World was especially fun with younger children, as they instilled a newfound sense of childlike wonder and excitement within all of us.
Although we had a blast in Disney World, what truly made our trip to Florida special was the volunteer work we decided to partake in as a family. The Give Kids the World foundation is an organization in Kissimmee, Florida that is affiliated with both Disney World and the Make a Wish foundation. Give Kids the World is a nonprofit location for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Partnering with the Make a Wish Foundation, Give Kids the World provides “wish families” with accommodations and access to donated theme park tickets. My family spent two days volunteering at this organization over Thanksgiving break. It was additionally special that we got to spend Thanksgiving Day volunteering.
My family and I volunteered at a variety of different locations and events at the Give Kids the World Village. At what is known as the Gingerbread House, we served the families breakfast. This included running food, refilling drinks, bussing tables, and clean-up. We also volunteered with the carousel ride, working as a Carousel Gate Keeper or a Carousel Operator. This involved safely operating the carousel and assisting wish families and visitors ride the attraction. Perhaps the most magical volunteer experience was at a location known as the Castle. In the Castle, wish families could meet and greet with Disney characters, as well as participate in a few interactive activities. Castle volunteers are responsible for greeting families, running the interactive activities, playing with kids, cleaning up play areas, supervising and monitoring the arcade, and completing tasks for the Entertainment department.
We got involved with the Give Kids the World organization because I am making a documentary on making the most out of life for my Senior Project. I filmed a great deal of volunteer work there to use in my documentary. At Give Kids the World, I not only obtained helpful information for my Senior Project, but I was also able to get my family involved with volunteering and giving back on Thanksgiving.
Our family trip to Florida was an all-around great experience. It brought me so much joy to travel to Disney World and to volunteer on Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for every second we spend at what truly is the Happiest Place on Earth.