Saturday, February 08, 2014

Day 7: Return to Give Kids The World

Today might have been the highlight of the trip. I love Disney, SeaWorld has been a blast, and I am so excited for Universal tomorrow but today we returned to one of the greatest places on earth -Give Kids The World Village as volunteers.

What is Give Kids The World Village (GKTW)? It is a wonderful story-book-like-village that  provides unforgettable, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.  GKTW are a non-profit whose mainly run by volunteers. Food and ice cream is donated. If you ever go to a Perkins, they one of the big providers for the village. They have ways that you can donate and help the GKTW (because of that we've been eating at Perkins a lot this week).  Often the families are connected to GKTW through organizations like Make A Wish or the Children's Wish Foundation.Their goal is to provide the happiness that inspires hope to these precious children along with the opportunity to create family memories that will last a lifetime.

Why did we volunteer on our vacation? For those who might not know, in 2004, my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia. Ten years later she is a healthy, happy, cancer-free, teenager. However, in 2007 she was granted a wish and our whole family stayed at GKTW. It was an amazing, unforgettable, memory-filled, week. You can read all about that first trip on here. We knew that if we ever returned to Florida we would return to the village as volunteers to pass the blessing on.

Lee-Ann in 2007
Lee-Ann in 2014
Today we returned to help serve breakfast. It meant an early morning, 6am wake up call but the experience was worth the lack of sleep. I helped prepare trays and utensils. Lee-Ann, Dad, and Kat carried trays to tables, and Mum busked the tables after the guest were done. I am so glad we were able to help again. We also returned 2011 for a shift in the ice cream palace, sadly I didn't really blog that experience nor have many pictures. It was crammed into this DayBook post.

The picture on the right is taken in front of the "Gingerbread House" dinning hall, where we were serving this morning as part of the breakfast crew with 30 other volunteers.

Every child that visits is given a star to write their name on. Then the "fairies" hang the star on the ceiling so they are always remembered. There are tens of thousands of stars. After our shift a volunteer helped us locate Lee-Ann's star. They also had this flashback video, which recorded on my phone and have tried to upload. If the quality is horrible or it doesn't work I will try to fix it tomorrow.

More pictures from our day:
Ice cream palace is open from 9am-9pm, and always free for guests (and returning guests like our family). One of Lee-Ann's clearest memories from 2007 was being told by Santa that we had to have ice cream for breakfast. The staff again told us that ice cream was a must...and it was delicious.

We have two more shifts next week; I look forward to returning. If you are every in Florida, consider volunteering at Give Kids the World, you can apply today. Even a single shift is possible and makes a huge impact in the lives for the families visiting. You can be a part of bringing happiness that inspires hope.

Daily Steps: 10,235

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