SOURCE: Disney Parks

December 29, 2009 13:59 ET

Year to Volunteer! Helping Others in 2010 Among Leading New Year's Resolutions for Americans, Survey Shows

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL--(Marketwire - December 29, 2009) - Pledges to lose weight or pay off debts typically find a way into conversations this time of year, as the anticipation of New Year's resolutions approaches. However, according to a study from Disney Parks and HandsOn Network, 2010 may see a surge of helping hands and giving hearts, as more families resolve to volunteer.

The survey, conducted by New York-based Kelton Research Nov. 18-23, 2009, found that 59 percent of Americans plan to volunteer in 2010. Interestingly, more women than men (62 percent vs. 54 percent) include volunteering as a goal for next year.

Survey results also showed that 41 percent of Americans would rather pledge to help others, such as volunteering, than resolve to do something that is purely self-serving. In fact, when asked what they anticipate they could accomplish in 2010, 52 percent of Americans surveyed identified spending more time together, followed by 30 percent who selected volunteering as foreseeable goals.

HandsOn Network, the nation's largest volunteer network, is working with Disney to help make 2010 the ideal year to realize those goals and make volunteering a family resolution.

Beginning on Jan 1, 2010, Disney Parks officially launches "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day," a first-of-its-kind initiative with the help of HandsOn Network. Through the program, Disney Parks hopes to inspire 1 million people to perform a day of volunteer service for a participating organization in 2010 by giving them a free, one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. Families are encouraged to visit www.DisneyParks.com to research and sign up for a volunteer opportunity in their local community.

"Disney Parks, through HandsOn Network, is making it easy for volunteers of all ages to find an organization in need," said Maggie Jones Patton, executive director of Youth HandsOn Network, the youth activating arm of HON. "There has never been a better time to start a new tradition of volunteering together as Disney Parks celebrates good deeds with a free Disney theme park ticket."

A Family That Volunteers Together...

The Kelton Research survey also found that more parents than single adults (68 percent vs. 55 percent) plan to volunteer in some way when the New Year arrives.

Volunteerism also has its "youth movement." The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that young adults, ages 16-24, are helping lead the way in volunteerism -- with more than 441,000 young volunteers in 2008 versus 2007. It also found that the youth today believe it is essential and "very important" to help others in need.

And according to Just Kid Inc., 37 percent of kids, 44 percent of tweens and 46 percent of teens said they would do more volunteering if given the opportunity. When that happens, almost all youth (99 percent) say they were satisfied with their chosen volunteer service.

How to Get Involved

HandsOn Network has 250 on-the-ground volunteer action centers across the country and connects volunteers to more than 70,000 non-profit agencies that need help. With Americans already thinking about various volunteer opportunities as their New Year's resolutions, 28 percent would be most interested in packaging donations at a food pantry or soup kitchen or helping out at a clothing or toy drive, the survey said.

Below are additional examples of opportunities available through HandsOn Network and its local affiliates. Families are encouraged to visit www.DisneyParks.com for additional ways to help.

--  Plant, weed and tend a community garden
--  Read to or spend time with children at a local daycare center or
    shelter
--  Assemble backpacks or supplies for under-resourced schools
--  Help spruce up a local school, library or outdoor park
--  Visit nursing homes to play games, make crafts or share talents with
    senior residents
    

Through volunteering, communities benefit from the small steps taken to help rebuild local areas, and nonprofits receive valuable assistance. Since 2007, the number of people working to fix a community problem has risen by 31 percent -- a dramatic increase -- further benefiting local communities, especially during the current economy, according to Volunteering in America 2009.

Starting Jan. 1, guests may pre-register and sign up for an eligible volunteer opportunity at disneyparks.com. Disney theme park ticket quantities for this program are limited. Must be at least age 6 to participate. One admission ticket per eligible person. Other terms and conditions apply. For details, see disneyparks.com.

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Survey Methodological Notes

The Disney Parks Survey was conducted of 1,000 persons by Kelton Research between Nov. 18-23, 2009, using an e-mail invitation and an online survey. Quotas are set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the entire U.S. population, ages 18 and over. Results are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.

About Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts are where dreams come true. More than 50 years ago, Walt Disney created a new kind of entertainment families could experience together, immersed in detailed atmospheres and vibrant storytelling. His vision now includes a collection of five of the world's leading family vacation destinations -- Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, Calif.; Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; Tokyo Disney Resort, Urayasu, Chiba, Japan; Disneyland Resort Paris, Marne-la-Vallée, France; and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, China. In addition, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts includes the world-class Disney Cruise Line; Disney Vacation Club, with nine resorts and more than 420,000 members; Adventures by Disney, a guided group vacation experience to some of the world's most popular destinations; Disney Regional Entertainment, which operates the ESPN Zone dining and entertainment centers; the World of Disney stores; and Walt Disney Imagineering, which creates and designs all Disney parks, resorts and attractions. For more information and images, please visit www.disneyparks.com.

About HandsOn Network

HandsOn Network, the volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, is the largest volunteer network in the nation and includes more than 250 HandsOn Action Centers that reach more than 83 percent of the nation's population and extend to 10 countries. HandsOn includes a powerful network of more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations that are answering the call to serve and creating scaled impact. In 2008, the network delivered approximately 30 million hours of volunteer service valued at $615 million. For more information, visit handsonnetwork.org.

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