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A Dazzling Pandemic Pivot

Jodi Benson and Wish Princess

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on nonprofits, and Give Kids The World is no exception. Faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges – including the temporary closure of the Village – Give Kids The World took the opportunity to continue doing what it does best: improving lives and spreading joy. 

To assist other organizations hard hit by the pandemic, the Village donated six tons of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank in support of Feeding America; mailed out 1,800 “Boxes of Hope” to critically ill children whose wishes were postponed; and donated the use of its property to local nonprofits after developing a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan in collaboration with infectious disease specialists at Nemours Children’s Hospital. In addition, in an inventive pivot designed to raise funds for future wish fulfillment, Give Kids The World created the first-ever Night of a Million Lights: an outdoor, socially distanced holiday lights spectacular featuring more than 3.3 million lights donated by Walt Disney World Resort; 150 holiday displays; and 45 wish family residential villas adopted and elaborately decorated by treasured community partners. The event was produced in just eight weeks with the support of 50 lighting techs and 2,300 volunteers, who contributed more than 35,000 volunteer hours helping to orchestrate every aspect of the event, from light stringing and set-up to on-site hospitality, merchandising and guest service.

Thanks to the support of Give Kids The World staff, volunteers, corporate partners, donors and community members, the event was an overwhelming success – safely welcoming in more than 90,000 guests over the course of the 52-night event and raising $2.8M in gross charitable proceeds to make magical wishes come true for our precious families. In addition, to support Toys for Tots, which experienced a significant drop in toy collection locations due to COVID-19, the Village invited attendees to make donations, resulting in 100 boxes filled with toys.

“We are indebted to everyone who contributed their time, generosity, passion and ingenuity helping to make Night of a Million Lights such a sparkling success,” said Give Kids The World President & CEO Pam Landwirth. “We appreciated the opportunity to share the magic of the Village with the local community at the holidays, while raising funds that will make it possible for us to continue our mission of spreading joy and transforming lives.”

Night of a Million LIghts

Click here to view a virtual walk-through of Night of a Million Lights.


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