As the largest corporate contributor to Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW), Walt Disney World Resort often gets attention for its charitable giving – Cast Members donate approximately $3 million annually to the organization.

© Copyright Disney

© Copyright Disney

What is lesser known – but just as important – is that Walt Disney World Resort also annually makes a valuable in-kind contribution to HFUW by loaning Cast Members to assist  the agency for three months with its annual fund-raising campaign.

The executives loaned to us by Walt Disney World Resort arrive already equipped with excellent skill. United Way will put their knowledge and talents to use through opportunities we provide for them to interact in the community and truly make a difference in the lives of others. They will return to Disney as even more effective leaders.
Leigh Smith, HFUW Vice President of Resource Development

On a special full-time assignment through the end of November, Kathy Blake, a guest service manager for Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Danna Howell, a guest service manager for Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort, will undergo accelerated training at Central Florida’s most comprehensive health and human services charity to help drive its fundraising efforts in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

“It’s just in my heart to help people,” said Blake, who as a mother of seven was drawn to the unique opportunity for its ability to assist in improving the lives of children. “I want to visit every possible United Way agency and learn as much as I can. I’m representing Disney and I want them to be proud of what I’ve done for them.”

Equally as excited to step into the special role, Howell looks forward to learning more about how Walt Disney World Resort works with United Way to make a positive impact in Central Florida.

HFUW annually builds a fundraising team of approximately 30 loaned executives from various local companies that in turn help more than 450 local companies implement their United Way workplace campaigns. Since 1992, Disney has loaned a total of 78 Executives to HFUW. Disney Cast Members have their chance to participate in the annual HFUW campaign now through September 18.

HFUW and its nearly 100 partner agencies served more than 349,180 residents in need in 2008 throughout Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Nearly 52 percent of clients served by United Way-funded programs are under the age of 19.