Kissimmee, FL, USA (April 16, 2012) /PRWEB/ — This week, during National Volunteer Week, Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) will reach a rare milestone—2 million volunteer hours completed at a single location—and will honor the more than 50,000 American and international volunteer “Angels” of many ages, talents and abilities who have filled an average of 1,400 weekly shifts over the last 26 years. To celebrate this monumental achievement and recognize its Angel volunteers, GKTW will host a celebration and ceremony on April 18 at Give Kids The World Village.
“We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our Angels in the United States and around the world who have graciously shared their time, talent and hearts to bring happiness and hope to more than 115,000 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families,” said GKTW President Pamela Landwirth. “Our dedicated Angels have allowed Give Kids The World to continue its mission of providing weeklong, cost-free vacations to children who need it the most.”
GKTW is one of only a handful of non-profits in the world to reach more than two million hours of documented volunteer service in one single location. This milestone was achieved just three years after hitting one million volunteer hours in 2009. From the beginning, GKTW has relied on volunteers to assist with daily resort operations, entertainment programs and regular upkeep and maintenance of the 70-acre Village. Every day, more than 200 Angels fill roles including greeters, gift givers, entertainers, ice cream scoopers, landscapers and even bringing the organization’s beloved character program to life. Volunteers donate their time each year to hand-sew more than 21,000 pillowcases for the Magic Pillow Tree, serve over 260,000 meals in the Gingerbread House Restaurant and deliver over 23,000 pizzas to wish families, among many other tasks that ensure that the children and their families have the best experience possible at GKTW. In addition, these volunteers have saved GKTW more than $39 million in labor costs over the last 26 years, allowing the organization to use those funds to create magical memories for even more children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world.
GKTW Angel Joseph “Joe” Koch has been bringing smiles to the faces of wish families for more than 20 years. The retired mailman and widower from Pennsylvania began volunteering at GKTW in 1990 and to date has completed more than 20,000 hours. In 2004, he volunteered a record-breaking 4,000 hours—the equivalent of working almost 11 hours a day for 365 days straight! A survivor of prostate cancer and four bypass surgeries, Joe believes that volunteering at GKTW keeps him young and alive, stating, “Being here at the Village gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
Joe is part of a diverse group of volunteers of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds that travel from around the world to fill volunteer shifts at GKTW seven days a week, 365 days a year. The minimum age to volunteer at GKTW is 12 with the supervision of an adult and there is no maximum age—90-year-old Marian “Bunny” Kalman still volunteers two days a week. Retirees, students, corporate professionals, community groups, families and individuals have all opened their hearts and dedicated their time to bring happiness and joy into the lives of the wish families at GKTW.
The Angels at GKTW epitomize the definition of service – doing something for those in need for which they get no pay but the privilege of doing it. Their rewards are far greater – a child’s smile, a breath-taking hug or a simple “thank you” from grateful families and staff. According to Volunteer Director Beth Whitmire, volunteers often get more out of the experience than they ever imagined. “Our volunteers anticipate the happiness they will bring into the lives of our children, but they never anticipate the amount of happiness and hope our children will bring into their lives.”
To celebrate its milestone achievement, the organization is inviting all former, current and future Angels to attend a celebration at GKTW on April 18. Angels residing out of the area may share in the milestone by uploading a special image and story to GKTW’s online memory website, http://www.angelmosaic.com.
For more information on GKTW’s volunteer program or to sign up to become a volunteer, please visit http://www.givekidstheworld.org/volunteer.
About Give Kids The World
Recognized as the highest rated charity in America by personal finance site MainStreet, and also reported by MSN Money, Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. GKTW provides accommodations at its whimsical resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacation. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 115,000 families from all 50 states and more than 70 countries. For more information about GKTW and its mission, visit givekidstheworld.org.