Around the Village, there are many children and teenagers that are an inspiration to us all every day. Carly Sobol, a 17-year-old from Ohio, has a seven year history with Give Kids The World that is a motivating story of how a simple interaction with this special place can truly impact a person’s life.
Carly first came to the Village in 2006 when she was ten years old, after her mother saw a commercial for GKTW on television. After looking into the organization, the family decided to spend their holiday break volunteering at the Village instead of going on vacation as usual. Something about the Village spoke to them in a way that they knew they’d rather be here helping others during the holiday season.
From the moment she arrived, Carly had an amazing time, having way more fun serving as an Angel than she ever imagined. “I painted faces, worked in the Ice Cream Palace and I got to be a princess on a float! I really interacted with so many kids, they came up to me and gave me hugs. It was a really cool experience because I was in the middle of the magic,” said Carly.
Connecting with the families, volunteers and staff at the Village had such an impact on Carly that as soon as she returned home, she immediately started thinking of ways she could do something for GKTW since she didn’t live close enough to volunteer all the time. The next year, she held a dance-a-thon, inviting her entire school and community to participate in the event. They raised $1,000 for the Village, but to Carly it was spreading the message of GKTW that was more important. “The best part was not only was I raising money, but I was raising awareness. Everyone in my community learned about this incredible organization and place,” said Carly.
In 2008, Carly returned to the Village with her family to volunteer once again. This time she spent some of her time in Gift Giving, helping to distribute welcome bags to villas before the families checked in. As she inspected the bags to make sure everything was in there, an idea came to her. “I thought how cool would it be if there was a card in there. There’s something special about a written note. I think people appreciate handmade things, things that come from your heart,” Carly said.
Carly took the idea of making cards for the families to Oakwood Giving, a philanthropic club at her high school where she is a community leader. The club spends time packing lunches for the homeless, trick or treating for canned good donations for the Salvation Army, making fleece blankets during winter and many more charitable activities. Once she told the group about GKTW, they were immediately on board. “I showed them a DVD and I had a whole room of tears. I don’t think anyone was ready for the impact it would have on them. Everyone in the group learned what a magical place it is,” Carly said.
This year the club has already made and sent over a hundred cards to the Village. The cards are sure to bring a smile to the many families that will receive them upon check-in to their villa, realizing the time and care that went into making them. Carly even came up with a slogan that appears on almost all the cards — “Have a super stay, enjoy the magic every day.”
Carly plans to come back to GKTW next year, but in the meantime, the impact she’s making is definitely felt throughout the Village. “It’s a great way to still feel like I’m doing a small part because every part counts. I always wish I could do more though. Something important in my life is to give more than you take and GKTW definitely sums up everything for me. It’s been a really cool outlet for me to be able to use my passion and my connection with others in a unique way that I know I’m impacting others,” said Carly.