As if we didn’t already feel that Disney cast members went the extra mile to ensure that we felt magic while at the parks, this story will reassure you that Disney cast members are, in fact, made of pixie dust. These VoluntEARs could be the cast member that waves pixie dust over the lap bar for Peter Pan’s Flight, or that one cast member that follows you while in the stretching room in the Haunted Mansion. This is such a wonderful story –
Spreading a little extra pixie dust, dozens of dedicated Disney VoluntEARS meet nearly everyday putting their hands and hearts together to knit, crochet and stitch handmade baby caps, scarves, pillowcases and blankets for newborns, children and others in Central Florida.
Also known as BlanketEARs, the close-knit group of Cast Members banded together in 2007, as a small group that would get together once a week to knit caps for soldiers deployed overseas. Over the years the group grew into a sizable organization and expanded their efforts to include baby caps, afghans and pet mats. They gather their items each month to work on various projects and learn new skills like new stitches, different patterns and quilting techniques.
“I like being able to see all the things that are made,” said Cast Member Debbie Weber who works in the animal nutrition center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “All these items are made with love, giving hope to the recipients regardless of the situation they are in. It’s really great to add some spark to their day.”
The carefully crafted creations are packed up each month and sent to community organizations and local hospitals such as the Orlando Day Nursery, the Osceola County Council on Aging, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, the Foundation for Foster Children, and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
“The donations bring much warmth and comfort to our young patients and their families,” said Angela Phillips, manager of volunteer services at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “For the patients to know that there are people in the community who care about others in challenging times is a powerful message for the heart, and thus as powerful as medicine in the overall healing process.”
So far this year, the BlanketEARS have spread more than 2,800 smiles with their hand-made creations and are continuing to stitch away.