This past weekend I was invited to attend the 2014 Blogger Bash at Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee. What is Give Kids the World Village you ask? GKTW is a non-profit organization that exists only to fulfill the wishes of all children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the world to experience a memorable, joyful, cost-free visit to the Central Florida attractions, and to enjoy the magic of Give Kids The World Village for as long as there is a need.
GKTW Village is a 70-acre resort complete with over 144 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 130,000 families from all 50 states and over 75 countries.
A few fun Facts About Give Kids The World:
- Families enjoy a weeklong, cost-free vacation that includes accommodations at Give Kids The World Village, meals, donated attraction tickets and more.
- With the help of many generous individuals and corporations, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, Hasbro, Perkins, Boston Market and many more, GKTW is able to serve over 7,000 families each year.
- Each and every day, dedicated volunteers share their time and talents with the Village.
- Each week more than 1,500 volunteer shifts are filled to help wish families experience their memorable vacation.
- GKTW maintains an administrative rate of just 8.3% – well below the national non-profit average.
- GKTW has consistently earned Charity Navigator’s four star rating and was named the most fiscally responsible charity by Worth Magazine in 2010 and MainStreet.com in 2012.
During the GKTW Blogger Bash, bloggers were able to tour the village and learn all about what they offer to children and their families. I was just FLOORED at all the have to offer. When families come here all of their costs are covered – they have a beautiful villa to stay in, a whole village filled with things to do (which includes a game room, multiple pools, and mini golf), meals (you can even have ice cream for breakfast), and tickets to theme parks.
Give Kids The World depends on volunteers, known as Angels, to fulfill hundreds volunteer shifts every day. There are over 1400 volunteer shifts available each and every week. You can start volunteering at age 12, so it is a perfect place to volunteer as a family. During our visit we learned about families who have come as guests in the past and now come back every year as volunteers. One family even moved to Florida after their son passed away so that they could become more involved. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit this link to learn more.
The day after my visit I actually joined a group that volunteers at GKTW village three times a year. I’ve made it a personal goal to volunteer more this year and this is a step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to going back to help out at this amazing place!
There are many other ways to help out GKTW besides volunteering. You could attend a fundraising event (or even host your own like Ice Cream for Breakfast), donate money or in-kind donations, sign up for employee gift matching, or buy an item from the Memory Mart. Only 7 cents of every dollar goes to administrative costs at GKTW. That means that 93% of the money raised goes directly to the families for their cost-free, magical vacation, making them one of the highest-rated charities in the United States. I know you’ve heard it before when it comes to donations – but every little bit does help!
I’m so glad that I was able to attend this event and learn more about this amazing charity that is right in our backyard. Even if Give Kids the World isn’t your charity of choice, I invite you to do some research and find one in your community that you want to support. My visit just reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for. And if I can do something to make a sick child (and their family) a little bit happier, even for a week, I want to do so.