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Disney donates essential school supplies to A Gift For Teaching

by Susan and Simon Veness

As 16,000 Central Florida students return to face-to-face schooling this week, Walt Disney World Resort steps in to help teachers supply their classrooms.

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Walt Disney World is well known for its community outreach and local philanthropy, and this time they’ve broadened their collaboration with A Gift For Teaching, the Central Florida non-profit that focuses on providing free resources and surplus materials to public schools.

For 20 years, Disney has worked with the non-profit organization, and this year they anticipated unprecedented financial hardship for schools—and for teachers who often have to fund the purchase of items such as pencils and paper—by helping educators directly through the donation of essential supplies.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, A Gift For Teaching has temporarily closed its supply warehouse in favor of curbside pickup, and the list of necessities required this year has expanded to include safety items such as lanyards for holding face masks and individual water bottles that allow students and teachers to avoid communal drinking fountains.

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And that’s where Walt Disney World’s merchandise teams stepped in, donating thousands of lanyards and nearly 5,000 reusable shopping bags for use at curbside pickup, as well as various items to “spread a little magic” in classrooms.

Jane Thompson, president at A Gift For Teaching, says, “The feedback from teachers has been incredible. They’ve been so thankful for us recognizing there was going to be a need and figuring out how we could help fill that need for them. That’s been very gratifying for us.”

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A trip by the Walt Disney World Ambassadors to see curbside pick-up in action emphasized the cooperation between the two, and Thompson expressed her gratitude. “One of the things that we’re so grateful for at this time is partnerships like we have with Disney. Disney as a partner has been there to serve and deliver and support our organization and our mission of ensuring that every student has every supply that they need.”

Walt Disney World has also extended their school supplies program to include further Central Florida schools and organizations, donating more than 100,000 reusable bags, thousands of water bottles and lanyards, backpacks, and other back-to-school essentials in an effort to ease the strain on teachers as they welcome their students back to in-person learning.

A Gift For Teaching serves 287 schools in Orange and Osceola County, impacting more than 240,000 children who would otherwise be without basic school supplies. For more information, or to volunteer or donate, visit A Gift For Teaching.

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