Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is an 84-acre, nonprofit resort in Florida that provides a special vacation home for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. GKTW provides 168 fully-furnished villas at its resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a week-long, cost-free fantasy vacation. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, GKTW has welcomed more than 154,000 families from all 50 states and 76 countries.
With its neatly manicured lawns, colorful duplexes and playful, whimsical buildings, it looks more like a make-believe suburban development than an all-inclusive resort. Give Kids The World Village is both… and neither; it’s a non-profit Village where children, whose last Wish is to visit central Florida’s theme parks, stay with their families for the time of their lives.
Give Kids The World Village accommodates these kids with handicap-accessible homes that sleep up to 7, plus one baby in a crib, and supervised on-site activities designed to make travel easy for families with children with a variety of disabilities. Once these children have been identified by a wish-granting organization that provides airfare, Give Kids The World Village fulfills the Wish of a lifetime.
During the day, the families visit world-famous attractions and theme parks of Central Florida. In the evening, they return to a Village teeming with themed parties, events and surprises. Delighting all members of the families are events such as the “Village Idol” weekly talent show, horseback riding and playing Candy Land on the world’s largest version of the game at Matthew’s Boundless Playground.
GKTW Works Magic on All Its Visitors
One of the magical moments enjoyed by children visiting GKTW is personalizing their gold star and placing it in the Castle of Miracles and the Star Tower. Their twinkling star remains always, and is a symbol of their light. In honor of the 30th anniversary of GLTW in 2016, a special song “When a Wish Becomes a Star,” was created by composer Rick McKee.
The Gallery of Hope visitor center is a tribute to the founder; corporate sponsors like Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Walmart, Hasbro and individual donors whose role has been critical to the continued success of GKTW. New initiatives continue, and in addition to building more units for its guests, there is also talk of expanding the successful GKTW model to another venue, perhaps southern California.
Volunteers at Give Kids the World
More than 1,400 volunteer shifts are needed to keep up the great work at GKTW, and, to-date, over 3 million volunteer hours have been logged. Volunteers greet anxious families at the airport, because more than 80% of families living with traumatic illness never have an opportunity to travel at all. Upon arrival to the Village, volunteers also check-in the families, help them settle into one of the 168 onsite villas, deliver meals, and provide evening entertainment and activities.
Volunteer opportunities keep expanding, so that even visiting conventioneers and vacationing families can schedule a day to help out and give back. Click here to check out volunteer opportunities and procedures.
Additionally, Give Kids The World Village welcomes more than 20 colleges each year for Alternative Spring Break, a week of volunteering instead of the traditional spring break experience.
Here’s a video that helps you envision their mission.
Contact Give Kids the World for More Info
The Give Kids The World Village is located in central Florida at 210 South Bass Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746. For more information about making a contribution and the many ways in which your family can become volunteers, call their offices at 800/995-KIDS or visit Give Kids the World online.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.