Monday, 9 December 2013

'Tis the Season for Giving

Amidst the seasonal flurry of  presents and spending and bills and Black Fridays and Boxing Days and things of that sort, don't forget to put a little money aside for those who could really use it. Right now, there are a couple of Disney-based campaigns that could use donations.

First up, and ending tomorrow, is the Small Worlds of Walt Storybook Land Restoration campaign. An original 1957 section of Storybook Land, removed during the 1981 recreation of the attraction, has landed in the possession of the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society and Carolwood Foundation. This society, if you don't already know, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Walt Disney's railroading legacy and is best known for operating Walt's Barn, "the only free Disney attraction in the world" on the grounds of the Los Angeles Live Steamers in Griffith Park. Through funds raised online, they hope to restore this section of the old French village under Cinderella's Castle with a protective cart that can be shown during their open houses. Visit their blog for more details and contribute what you can to preserve a piece of Disneyland history!

Concept art for the wagon to house "The Small Worlds of Walt."

It's very probable that you've already heard of this next campaign by now: the Walt Disney Birthplace Preservation Project. Despite the pervasiveness of the Disney company's media empire, precious few historic sites connected to Walt Disney himself still remain. The old farm in Marceline, Missouri, is gone, as is the Disney Bros. first studio in Kansas City and the original Hyperion Studios in Los Angeles. Even in Disneyland itself, corporate heads are fond of saying that "Disneyland is not a museum" when yet another piece originally placed by Walt and his first Imagineers is removed, paved over, blocked off, or replaced by some recent IP acquisition. Only pieces here and there remain, like Walt's Barn or what has been enshrined in the Walt Disney Family Museum. Astonishingly, the very home that Walt Disney was born in still exists! Time has taken its toll, and the current owners are looking for donations to restore the house to its 1901 appearance and build a small museum to celebrate the life of the man who came into life there. The campaign lasts until the end of the month, so you have something you can use that Christmas money on!

Concept art for the fully restored Walt Disney Birthplace.

Allow me to make one last appeal. Remember that while it is important to preserve the heritage of great artistic works and the people who created them, there are still many in the world who go without even the most basic of amenities. As you are helping these other causes, do not forget those in other parts of the world and in our own backyards who desperately need a hand up. One of my favourite charities is Canadian Lutheran World Relief. This humanitarian aid organization's expenses are largely paid for by the Lutheran churches of Canada, making it one of the most efficiently run charities in the world. Through their Gifts from the Heart program, a $20 fuel-efficient stove or a $50 training program for teachers or a $75 pair of goats can turn the life of a family in the poorest parts of the world around, saving lives and granting self-sufficiency, self-determination, and economic prosperity. Please find it in your heart this year to give to this or another deserving charity in your area.    

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