Monday, June 13, 2011

Volunteering at the Village, part II

Friday was an early morning, and we all tried to stumble through the getting ready motions as quickly as possible. We were out of the room at 7am and stopped to grab a quick breakfast at the Marketplace, the quick-service restaurant/hotel gift shop (yeah, I don't understand it either) shared by the Yacht and Beach Club hotels.

Good morning, carbs!
Photo source: WDW Info
We were a teeny bit late pulling into Give Kids the World, but luckily the staff was beyond understanding and assured us we hadn't missed anything. Today's shift was at the Gingerbread House -- we were helping with breakfast!

A quick run down of food at Give Kids the World: families are provided with all of their meals for the duration of their stay -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream, late-night pizza delivery, and other snacks. Many choose to eat at the parks for some meals, but when they need to eat at the Village there are plenty of options. It is a pretty good deal!

I have already mentioned the Ice Cream Palace, one of the most popular spots at the Village. The ice cream and fixings are supplied by Friendly's, and families can snack on banana splits and other treats from early morning to late at night.

Also popular option is Katie's Kitchen, a quick lunch or dinner option. The food is provided by Boston Market, so families can order rotisserie chicken dinners, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, all of the delicious sides...yum!

I love a good Chicken Carver Sandwich...
Photo credit: Give Kids the World
And finally, there is the Gingerbread House. This is a buffet style restaurant open for breakfast and dinner. The food is provided by Perkins, so there are plenty of good, homestyle options. This is where we were headed!

Photo credit: Give Kids the World
On the morning of our shift, there was a large number of corporate volunteers from JPMorganChase stationed at the Gingerbread House so there quite a few hands available. Some of the Village's regular volunteers were manning the buffet lines (which was smart -- having some experienced hands really kept things flowing), so my mom was assigned to help with the waffle station (fresh Belgian waffles with whipped cream, fruit, butter, or chocolate -- so yummy!) and my brother and I were tray carriers.

Give Kids the World thinks of everything, and one of the small but meaningful touches is that all guests have their trays carried for them. Many of the Wish Children who visit the Village are not able to carry their own trays, but rather than making them feel singled out or reminded of things they can't do, volunteers are on hand to carry trays for everyone. This turns a gesture that might be a source of frustration into one that seems like white glove service for all. The kids like being "waited on", and the parents don't seem to mind special treatment either (especially the moms -- they usually have to carry everything, right?).

Such a warm and happy place
Photo source: Give Kids the World
As a volunteer, I loved this job -- I got to chat with all of the families and take a minute to ask about plans for the day, hear favorite memories from the trip, and just help everyone get their meals off to the right start. I also acted as a "runner" -- refilling drinks and grabbing seconds for people so they could relax at their tables, and also cleaning up tables as families left.

I also got to see plenty of special moments. One of the first kids to come off the line happily handed over his tray, which consisted of a plate filled with nothing but bacon. He was thrilled, and the true embodiment of GKTW's motto that a week at the Village is a week of 'yes'. You want to eat nothing but bacon for breakfast? Sure!

I also watched a little boy break out into a big smile as he sat and watched all of the activity in the Gingerbread House. I didn't think much of it until his mom came over with a camera to capture the moment -- he is non-verbal and rarely smiles or laughs, so this was a very special event. And a perfect reminder of why Give Kids the World is so special -- it creates these magical moments every single day.

The shift went by pretty quickly, and after a thorough clean-up it was time to go. I was sad to say goodbye, but I tried to turn that sadness into determination that I would come back as soon as possible. There are so many more wishes that need fulfilling...


  1. All of your Give Kids the World work is so admirable! The more I learn about what you are doing the more I love this organization!

  2. Aww, thanks! I have volunteered with a number of organizations over the years (and I've also worked at a lot of nonprofits), and GKTW really is special.

    For all of the good it does, I feel like it keeps a pretty low profile...I'm glad I found it, and I'm glad to help spread the word!