Focus On Thanksgiving: Giving Kids The World

focus on thanksgiving

The following is a guest post from Kaylene at Memory Maker Mom. She is a member of the 2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panel where she helps others plan their dream vacations. On her blog, Kaylene shares about her family and how she seizes the opportunity to make every day a memory. Having known Kaylene for over 10 years, I am well aware of her heart for giving and was thrilled when she agreed to share how thankfulness leads to action in her life. Be sure to stop by her blog and say hello and be inspired.

Often when people hear that I have five children, their first reaction is: “Wow, you sure have your hands full.”

My instant reaction is: “My hands aren’t nearly as full as my heart”.

I’ve been incredibly blessed with 5 beautiful, healthy children. Some parents aren’t so lucky.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve served as a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. I firmly believe that quality family vacation time provides people with invaluable lifelong memories, and I spend my time answering questions which help people plan their Disney dream vacations. The satisfaction that comes from helping them is a big piece of why I wanted to be on the Panel. I answer questions from people whose biggest wish is to see their little girl meet Cinderella for the first time, watch their son hug Mickey Mouse, explore the Magic Kingdom with their grandchildren or enjoy a fabulous meal while watching fireworks. Essentially, they want to share in a pixie-dusted, stress free week of love and laughter with their family before returning home to “life as usual”. Like me, these people are blessed.

What about those people whose dreams for their family come to a screeching halt when their child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness? As a Mom, my heart absolutely breaks for them. I have several friends whose critically ill children have struggled and a couple whose precious babies have lost their battle.

In 2009, members of the Moms Panel decided that they wanted to find a way to help these children and their families. They raised $1,450 for Give Kids the World Village. This was something they did on their own, and it had nothing to do with their work on the Panel. Give Kids the World Village ( http://www.gktw.org/) is located in Central Florida. This special place provides cost free vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It blesses them with a week-long family vacation “away from it all” and offers hope during a frightening time in their lives. Several of Central Florida’s Theme Parks provide tickets for the families, and other organizations donate food, transportation, medical supplies and more. The only thing the family needs to worry about is which beloved character to hug first. Imagine the joy that it must bring to a Mom or Dads heart to hear their child’s laughter in such a Magical place…to know that these memories will last forever…no matter what happens.

The tradition of helping Give Kids the World Village continued on this year. New to the Panel, I embraced the opportunity to help coordinate the efforts to raise money for this incredible cause. I desperately wanted to help these families to be able to create memories with their precious children. So, the fund raising began. Armed with passion and pixie-dust, we joined hands together across the country and held ice-cream socials in our communities, collected donations, emptied piggy banks and reached out to online friends through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Then, on October 1, 2010, we visited the Give Kids the World Village together and made a donation in the amount of $7,500!! This donation represented in some tangible way, two things which are very important to us. As members of the Moms Panel, family and helping others define us. Making a donation that could help critically ill children and their families create precious memories—that was priceless to us.

 Kaylene and Moms Panel Friends with Pamela Landwirth, President of Give Kids The World

Several of us brought our children along to visit this incredible place. We felt that seeing firsthand what other children struggle with would give them an appreciation for their own health and to remember to be thankful for each and every day. It made such an impression on my 10 year old son that he created a poster board and shared the photos and information with his class.

None of us know when it could be our family next that is dealt such an inconceivable blow. Thankfully, there are places such as Give Kids the World Village whose mission is to provide a haven and to bring a bit of happiness.

It brings me an incredible amount of joy to help other families make memories that will last them a lifetime. God has blessed me immensely. Sure, there are days when the kids are fighting, the house is a mess and nothing seems to be going right. It is then that I think back on our visit to Give Kids the World Village. I immediately start counting my blessings and am ever so grateful for my healthy children. It is that thankfulness and passion for helping others that will drive me to fund raise again in 2011 for the Give Kids the World Village.

* I am not a Disney employee. These thoughts are my own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.

_____________________________

If you missed earlier installments in my Focus On Thanksgiving series, you can read them here:

Janet is a mom to two daughters and is married to her best friend. Her belief that we are blessed so that we may bless others fuels her writing at frugalandfocused.com where she shares her thoughts on faith, family, and frugal living. She strives to make the most of what she's given in life and hopes to inspire others to do the same.