Costuming Cast Members at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida collected, dressed, and donated an all-time-high number of teddy bears this holiday season. A total of 414 one-of-a-kind stuffed toys were donated to the Salvation Army of Central Florida, who then gives the bears to local children who are in need of Christmas gifts.
As highlighted on the Disney Parks Blog and on the Walt Disney World Public Affairs site, this annual program is an opportunity for dedicated Cast Members to demonstarte their skills, creativity, and compassion. Maryla Zielinska, a garment cutter coordinator in the Creative Costuming Workroom makes several costumes every year saying, “It’s Christmas – time to give something to other people.” In the spirit of the Season of Sharing, Maryla makes lots of extra shoes, bows, and hats for her co-workers to add to their bears.
The teddy bear costuming program began at Walt Disney World in 1996. Costumer Janice Jones started the program when she heard about the call for community members to dress the teddy bears. “The program showcases the team’s creativity and caring,” Janice says. “Everything is stitched with love and it’s from the Costuming family.” Cast members work on their own time, often with scraps of fabric from other projects.
Volunteer Spotlight: Josefina Salas, Magic Kingdom Sewing Specialist
Each year, Josefina donates and dresses 18 bears in unique outfits, plus a few outfits to spare in case there are any bears who don’t get dressed on time. She saves up scrap materials all year, including scraps of the fabric that was used for George Washington’s vest during the recent Hall of the Presidents rehabilitation. She obviously used the material to make a very presidential bear! Her personal favorite was a Princess Tiana bear.
The 414 unique bears set an impressive personal best in a year 0f immense community-wide need, beating out the record high of 301 bears from last year. Additionally, Cast Members stuffed 225 stockings for the organization. Furthermore, for the first time, Costuming team members at the Disneyland Resort in California contributed some bears, and they hope to expand the efforts to Disneyland Paris next year.
“The project is just one of several Walt Disney World Resort efforts with charitable organizations to help spread magic throughout the community during this “Season of Sharing.” The goal of “Season of Sharing” is to help raise awareness of charitable causes to build better futures for Central Florida’s families and children. More stories and details can be found here.”