We all need to smile from time to time. Smiles turn to laughter and unlock happiness. Yet for a child with a life-threatening illness, reasons to smile are not always easy to find. There is a place in Kissimmee, Florida working to change that. They work to brighten the lives of children and families dealing with health issues one fantasy vacation at a time.

The #volunteers of @GKTWvillage are making a difference, 1 kid at a time. #truecelebrity #RewardVolunteers Click To Tweet

It is called Give Kids the World, a storybook village and theme park where children and their families are treated to a weeklong fantasy vacation, free of charge. The village, which opened in 1989, hosts around 7,000 families a year. The entire place is run and operated by dedicated volunteers.

Jo and Mike - Cabot Community Celebrities

Jo and Mike – Cabot Community Celebrities

The most popular spot at the resort: the Ice Cream Palace. That is where you will find Michael and Josephine Gentile, who volunteer their time each week scooping ice cream and interacting with families. Each order is made to the delight of the child. If they want 18 cherries on top, they get 18 cherries. A scoop of ice cream may seem small, but with every scoop new memories and moments of joy are created for children in need of some joy.

Jo and Mike (center) with other volunteers from the Ice Cream parlor at Give Kids the World

The Ice Cream Parlor Volunteers at Give Kids the World Village

For Elizabeth Fowler and Laura Moore, helping children with serious illnesses is done through volunteer work at their local schools. Elizabeth lives in Clarkesville, Tennessee and organizes a student “Trike-A-Thon” fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The event asks students to raise money in exchange for a week of riding their bikes. The event now raises more than $20,000 annually for the research hospital, which is leading the way in treating and defeating childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases in children.

Elizabeth Fowler - Cabot Community Celebrity

Elizabeth Fowler (right) – Cabot Community Celebrity

St. Jude's Trike-A-Thon

St. Jude’s Trike-A-Thon

Laura lives in Jackson, Tennessee and organizes her school’s similar “Math-A-Thon” program. This year, the week of math-based activities for students raised more than $78,000 for St. Jude. These events represent kids helping kids. They rally the community and teach kids the importance helping others. Volunteers like Laura step up each year to ensure the program continues to grow.

Laura Moore - Cabot Community Celebrity

Laura Moore – Cabot Community Celebrity

St. Jude's Math-A-Thon

St. Jude’s Math-A-Thon

Michael, Josephine, Elizabeth, and Laura are bettering the lives of kids in need. Their efforts are focused on different organizations, but these selfless acts add up to improve the greater good. They add up in money raised to find cures, in a family’s ability to take a vacation, and perhaps most importantly in smiles. Bringing smiles to the faces of those who need to it most.

The farm families who own Cabot often volunteer in the communities in which they live and they hope to inspire others to do the same. The Cabot Community Celebrity Cruise was created to honor outstanding individuals in communities across the country committed to changing lives for the better. Over the next few months we will put the spotlight on these celebrities, who can inspire us all into action.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative and their partners are working to evolve the notion of celebrity as recognition of community service and volunteerism. The 1200 farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative are often the first to volunteer in their own communities and that spirit of giving back permeates all we do. The Cabot Community Celebrities, along with our Reward Volunteers program, and the traveling Cabot Gratitude Grille illustrate the many ways our dairy farm families honor, amplify, and reward those who give time to do good.  Even simple acts can lead to big change. We are proud to work with sponsors such as AARP/Create the Good, National Cooperative Bank and the Points of Light’s Hands on Network to celebrate these good people for their good deeds and build networks of help that can last a lifetime.

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