This is a guest blog written by Village supporter and future volunteer, Brianna Ackerman.
One day at the beginning of junior year in college, I received an email of campus weekly announcements. I quickly scrolled through the email, when all of a sudden I saw the heading “Apply to Give Kids The World Alternative Spring Break Trip.” I had never heard of Give Kids The World before, so I went on their website and started to learn more. I instantly texted my roommate from sophomore year, who is also an education major, and said “We have to apply for this service trip.” This trip encompassed two of my favorite things: working with children and helping others. I wound up not getting a spot to go to Give Kids The World that year but was determined to make the cut senior year. I applied as soon as I could the following year, was accepted, and could not wait to spend my senior spring break 2020 volunteering at Give Kids The World.
Before my trip, Give Kids The World president; Pamela Landwirth, announced that Village operations would be suspended due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. I was supposed to volunteer at Give Kids The World for the first time with about fifteen of my dedicated peers through Geneseo, a state university in Western New York. I was initially upset about not being able to go but was more concerned about all the kids that just had their dream trip postponed. I can’t imagine how it feels to be a child who had their vacation postponed, or a parent of a critically ill child who had been determined to make a trip to the Village with their family. I know Give Kids The World made the best decision for the safety of their guests by closing their doors but can’t help but feel for the families who are directly impacted.
Luckily, although the Village has temporarily suspended operations, Give Kids The World has been working hard to put together virtual events for families, volunteers and supporters to take part in on Facebook Live hosted by staff members from the Give Kids The World Entertainment team. In the first virtual event, Give Kids The World’s “Jingle Justin” hosted a virtual Winter Wonderland. Justin organized a snowflake craft to do from home requiring just a single piece of paper. The video stream had hundreds of live viewers from around the world and currently has over 13,000 views. Additionally, Village staff member, “Neo-Paul-itan” held a virtual ice cream party, showing viewers how to make the perfect ice cream sundae. Both Justin and Paul were enthusiastic during their virtual parties, making jokes, and keeping an upbeat spirit. Justin even read some of the comments live, giving some viewers a personal shout out or greeting.
Seeing the amount of work the Give Kids The World family is putting in to brighten the day of children around the world during this difficult time has shown me what a strong community Give Kids the World has. Although I was unable to volunteer this spring, I am eager to apply again to volunteer in the near future and to fully become part of the Give Kids The World family. Although it’s unlikely I will be able to go to Give Kids the World through Geneseo, I plan on getting my family, friends, and even future students involved with Give Kids The World.