LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Walt Disney World cast members and Marine representatives helped spread some extra holiday magic to hundreds of families over the weekend.
For the first time ever, the resort held its first Toys For Tots distribution event in the parking lot at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
“We are hosting a Toys for Tots distribution event and families are here, they’re collecting toys and our Disney VoluntEARS, our cast members, are just so excited to be able to welcome these families and help them bring a little extra joy to their families this holiday season,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of external affairs at Walt Disney World.
[TRENDING: Become a News 6 Insider]
Disney said the holiday initiative continues a 75-year tradition of supporting Toys for Tots and delivering toys, hope and joy to children in need during the holiday season.
“Reserve Major Bill Hendricks was the one who started the program in 1947. So we’re celebrating 75 years. But it was his relationship with Walt Disney that that forged the partnership with Disney that we enjoy to this day,” said Lt. General Jim Laster, president and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “In fact, it was Walt Disney who gave us our our name Toys for Tots and our logo that we still own to this day. And I would say that because of the strong partnership and the corporate support that we get from Disney for 75 years that has enabled us to support 281 million children over these so many years, so we couldn’t do it without them.”
Since November, Walt Disney World cast members and visiting guests have donated more than 40,000 toys to the Toys for Tots program.
“Disney has hired so many veterans throughout our 100 year history. And even the past 10 years alone we’ve hired more than 12,500 as part of our Heroes work here program,” said Cappy Surette, communications manager and Disney SALUTE employee resource group co-chair. “And on a morning like this, where you have so many volunteers giving back - working side by side with the Marines, but also so many of our volunteers here today are members of our salute, veteran diversity group - and they get a new mission here at Disney and today’s mission is to help make some magic for some families in need and especially during the holidays.”
In addition to the toy distribution, families on Saturday also got the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, who was dressed as Santa Claus for the special event.
The distribution event is the latest in a number of efforts Walt Disney World has done to give back to the Central Florida community. Disney said during the 50th anniversary celebration alone, the company has granted more than $5.5 million to local nonprofits and cast have spent more than 170K hours giving back as Disney VoluntEARS.
If you would like to help the Toys for Tots program, the company is still accepting Toy donations online through Dec. 24.
Use the form below to sign up for the ClickOrlando.com In the Loop: Theme Park Scoops newsletter, sent every Friday morning.