As part of National Volunteer Week, Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) celebrated a monumental achievement last week — two million volunteer hours completed in one single location. They honored the more than 50,000 American and international volunteer “Angels” who helped the organization reach this milestone.
“This morning is such a great celebration and it is all about you,” said GKTW President Pamela Landwirth. “The love, the care and the devotion that you have poured in over the years to our wonderful families is absolutely incredible.”
More than 400 Angels were recognized during the April 18 celebration and ceremony at the Give Kids The World Village. Volunteers were treated to a buffet breakfast, entertainment and provided special GKTW T-shirts printed with the slogan, “Volunteering Never Stops. 2 Million and Counting…” The honorees also gathered together for an aerial photo as an airplane flew overhead to capture the milestone.
Give Kids The World is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. They provide accommodations at its whimsical resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacation. With the help of many individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, they have welcomed more than 115,000 families from all 50 states and more than 70 countries.
GKTW is one of only a handful of non-profits in the world to reach two million hours of documented volunteer service in one single location. This milestone was achieved through the service of more than 50,000 volunteers of all ages, talents and abilities who filled an average of 1,400 shifts a week over the last 26 years.
Since its founding, 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 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.
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 keeps him young and alive, stating, “Being here at the Village gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
To celebrate the milestone achievement, GKTW is inviting all Angels to share a special image and story to GKTW’s online memory website, angelmosaic.com.
For more information on the Give Kids The World volunteer program or to sign up, visit givekidstheworld.org/volunteer.