Walt Disney World® Resort is recognizing the 50th anniversary celebration in a variety of ways, one of them being a Disney VoluntEAR challenge! Cast members were challenged to complete 50 volunteer hours or attend 50 volunteer events during the span of the celebration – and one Disney College Program participant achieved that goal. Kelsey Leaf, an attractions cast member at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom Park completed 50 Disney VoluntEAR hours during her program!
Cast members who complete the challenge earn a larger-than-life iridescent commemorative nametag. That nametag is actually how Kelsey learned about VoluntEARs. “I learned about Disney VoluntEARs during my first visit to the program office,” says Kelsey. “On one of the program experience manager’s desks was a unique iridescent 50th nametag, which I thought was cool.”
Seeing that nametag inspired Kelsey to look up VoluntEARing on The HUB, an internal company website participants have access to once they begin their program. “When I received access to The HUB, I found a whole page dedicated to volunteering and the 50 for 50 challenge. From there, I set a personal goal to complete the challenge before my time in the Disney College Program ended.”
Kelsey has a strong history of volunteering even before coming to Disney. She volunteered in her community, most recently with several organizations: a local Boy Scout Troop, a zoo, as the President of the Comfort Dog Club at her college and the local Humane Society.
“Looking back,” says Kelsey, “my program would not have been the same without all the volunteering I did.” She explains, “Volunteering impacted my program experience for the better as I balanced my regular routine of work and visiting the parks with volunteering. It allowed me to meet people with similar interests as me who I wouldn’t have met otherwise and give back to my new community.”
Kelsey’s favorite activity during her program was volunteering at Give Kids the World Village where they served breakfast to children with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and their families. She also enjoyed crafting hats for Only Make Believe, saying, “It was great to see so many College Program participants come together to support one cause and use their creativity to create unique hats. I loved making the hats and seeing all the awesome hats other people made!”
This isn’t the end of Kelsey’s volunteering story. After her program, Kelsey is headed back to school for her senior year of college to complete her bachelor’s degree in elementary and early childhood education. “As for volunteering,” Kelsey says, “I plan to return to my previous volunteer activities: being an assistant adult leader for my local Scout BSA Troop, returning to my role as president of the Comfort Dog Club and continuing therapy dog visits to my local library, where children can read to my trained therapy dog.”
Kelsey’s advice to other participants is to “take the leap and go out and volunteer,” pointing out that you might be surprised by the things you learn and the people you meet while volunteering. “After all,” she says, “you don’t have to complete the challenge to make an impact. Every bit counts, so be curious and enjoy the ride.”