Laid-Off Cast Members Start a Holiday Toy Drive for the Children of Other Laid-Off Cast Members

Walt Disney World has confirmed layoffs of over 15,000 cast members in the last few weeks. While we hear these stories, and sympathize with the cast members, we often forget the parts of their lives that will be effected. For example, it’s almost the holidays and a lot of these cast members have children who they are now worried about giving them a good Christmas.

Among those are Erin Blackketter and Laura Bartlett, who worked as part-time servers at places such as Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Speaking to ClickOrlando, Blackketter said, “OK we’ll be back to work by June.” Then she thought, “OK we’ll be back to work by July. Then August and September. Then we got the layoff notifications, and we were like ‘I guess that’s it.’ It’s really devastating.”

Both Bartlett and Blackketter were able to fall back on other careers, but the two admit they are the lucky ones in this pandemic.

“We were very fortunate but a lot of our cast family that we’ve known for ten years were not as fortunate,” Bartlett said. “Not working there right now has been really heartbreaking. This is the end of an era for us.”

Now those laid off cast members hope to help others impacted this holiday season by starting “Cast Member Toy Box.”

The message on their Facebook page reads as follows;

“Hello Friends,

Welcome to Cast Member Toy Box!
We are two furloughed, long time Disney cast member mamas who are hosting a holiday toy drive collecting new toys for fellow furloughed and laid-off Disney Cast Members. It’s no secret that Cast Members made a big bulk of their annual income working the holidays at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, this year many of us have been furloughed since March, have just been given the notice that we will be laid off from the company or are awaiting that dreaded phone call. This could not have come at a more challenging time, the holidays!

Many Cast Members are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table; the last thing they are worrying about right now is how they are going to give their children the holiday celebration they deserve. However, the time will quickly come when cast member families will have to sit their children down and explain to their kids why they can’t celebrate the holidays like they have grown accustomed to. As mothers the thought of this being so many people’s reality just breaks our hearts! Our kids shouldn’t have to suffer and be disappointed during this already difficult and different holiday season because of circumstances out of their parents control. Let’s help spread holiday cheer and sprinkle some pixie dust around for a cast that has previously created so much magic to millions of families throughout the years. If you can find it in your heart to purchase a small gift you will be helping keep the magic alive during this holiday season for one sweet child.

We have created an Amazon Wishlist for virtual donations and have set up a Venmo and PayPal account for monetary gifts. (All cash will be used to purchase gift cards and toys for the children of cast members)

Amazon Wishlist:
Venmo Username: @castmembertoybox

*When using PayPal Please select the sending to family and friends option*i

Our first in person drop off will be next Saturday on October 24th from 9am-12pm. Location is still pending approval (it will be near Disney World for convenience) If you are interested in donating in person please message us or email us at [email protected] so we can anticipate your arrival.

Our first Toy Pickup for Cast Members will be Saturday November 14th Location TBD. If you would like to sign up for this event please follow the link below. Once you have completed the Cast Member Toy Box Pickup Request Form we will send you a confirmation email with your toy box pickup number. More information about this event will follow.

Cast Member Toy Box Pickup Request Form:

Tomorrow, Cast Member Toy Box is holding a toy drive, see below for more information.