When I was a kid, we lived smack dab in the middle of the Disneyworld tourist area of Kissimmee. I remember seeing a sign next to our Walmart all the time about a place named Give Kids The World. At the time, I did not know anything about it other than it was a place for sick kids. Fast forward to now.. My friend and fellow Sisters by Heart member, Jenny, traveled with her family to the Give Kids the World Village a few weeks ago for her daughter's Make a Wish trip. As I was reading one of Jenny's blog posts about their recent trip to the village, I decided to look into the village and snoop around. It's the same place we used to pass by when I was a kid! Small world. Seeing all of the pictures of her sweet little girl having the time of her life was so inspiring! I couldn't believe this place has been in my backyard this whole time and I didn't know!
I eagerly signed up to volunteer online. Once my background check cleared, I completed my orientation and signed up for my first shift. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I woke before dawn this AM and drove over (just under 40 minute commute) to start my first shift.
It was incredible. And amazing. And heart warming.
This morning I was signed up to help with the breakfast service at the Gingerbread House. We served over 400 people, most of whom were on vacation for their Make a Wish trip. Everyone was so thrilled to be there, guests and volunteers alike. One of the volunteers serving with me is a grandma to a former GKTW guest. Her family was back to help serve others, like they were served years ago when her granddaughter had cancer. Not even 20 minutes after the doors opened, the entire room started singing for a little boy's birthday. The excitement he had just lit up the whole room. I seriously have never seen a child that excited, it brought tears to my eyes (and Grandma's too) and we both tried our best to conceal our sniffles. Another couple that volunteered with me was on vacation from NY. They had only been in town for a few days and had already volunteered 3 days! Something about this place just draws you back, I didn't want to leave and cannot wait to return next week!
If you are interested in volunteering, the sign-up process is simple and you can volunteer for whatever day/time works best for you. Even once a month can make a difference! There is so much to do, so much help needed.. This is an awesome way to get involved and give back!
For more information on volunteering at Give Kids the World, click here.