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Thanks To Disney, Volunteering Will Get A Boost!


We all know we should do something to help out in our communities, but with the pace of life and ever-tightening schedules it’s tough to make volunteering a priority. However, Disney Parks has just announced a tremendous offer that may give you the incentive to trade some television time in exchange for doing good in your neighborhood.


The program is called “Give A Day, Get a Disney Day” and is very simple: Provide volunteer service in your community and in return Disney Parks will supply you with a free admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Even better, your entire family can participate. Children must be at least six years old, but up to eight people in your home can all receive free Disney Parks day passes. The passes are even upgradable (at your expense) to multi-day or season tickets.


The logistics of this program are very impressive. Disney is working through the Points of Light Institute’s Hands On Network in the US and Volunteer Canada in Canada. That means you can practically live anywhere in those two countries and be able to participate. On top of that, there are many enjoyable volunteer opportunities. On September 29, 2009, a promotional launch for the program saw 200 people volunteer at the Toronto Zoo. Among other tasks, they helped make “enrichment items” for the animals -- like hollowed out pumpkins for the bears to play with.  (That’s almost more fun than going to Disneyland!)


Interestingly, in these days of “bad news,” volunteering in the US is something people are very familiar with. While overall rates are down slightly after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, still over one-quarter of Americans rolled up their sleeves and helped out between September 2007 and September 2008, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.


If you and your family are interested in volunteering in the program, you can find more information online. Volunteers in the US and Puerto Rico can head to www.DisneyParks.com while Canadians can find info at www.DisneyParks.ca. The FAQ section will detail what the offer entails. While the deal is pretty straightforward, there are a few things you should note: The program doesn’t officially start until January 1, 2010, so any volunteer service you want to use toward your free ticket must begin on or after that date. You also must sign up for the program through the above website (after January 1, 2010). There are also a few (but not many) blackout dates on which tickets cannot be used and they expire December 15, 2010, which is also the closing date of the program.


While we are often critical of the media industry, I applaud this program for its generosity and accessibility. Yes, you still have to make your way to one of the Disney resorts, but if the travel expenses aren’t in your budget before December of 2010 there is an option to donate your ticket to a non-profit organization designated by Disney Parks (otherwise the tickets are non-transferrable).


Thanks to Disney Parks, our country can only get better with an extra million helpers in our communities.


Rod Gustafson


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

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