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Free Disney passes for community volunteers

Spend an afternoon volunteering at a museum, food pantry or other nonprofit, get a one-day pass to a Walt Disney World theme park. That's the premise behind Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" program, which runs through 2010 - or until 1 million visitors redeem vouchers (roughly a $79 value) at a Walt Disney World theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. or Disneyland in Anaheim.

The idea, says Disney Parks marketing manager Brad Baker, is to encourage families to get into a volunteer spirit by donating time - together - to help communities. Disney has partnered with HandsOn Network, which operates a national database of volunteer stints at more than 70,000 agencies, including several dozen on Long Island.

HOW IT WORKS

Volunteers can go to disney parks.com to search for listings by ZIP code and interest. Some agencies have dates and times when workers can sign up. Others have ongoing activities.

Posted volunteer slots on the Island range from calls for older teens and adults to help supervise elementary-age kids at the Girl Scouts of Suffolk County winter break camp to shifts for adults as tutors at the Hempstead Boys and Girls Club. Once registered, volunteers coordinate service with the agency, receiving their free admission voucher via e-mail after work has been finished.

LOCAL RESPONSE

After Disney's program launched Jan. 1, Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum was overrun with inquiries. "It was overwhelming," says program director Nomi Dayan, who estimates the museum received 250 inquiries in a week from families and individuals for jobs ranging from manning the admission desk and gift shop to helping with arts and crafts during family programs. For now, Dayan has deactivated the museum's listing on Disney's Web site while she works through a waiting list.

GOOD TO KNOW

Baker advises families seeking volunteer gigs to browse HandsOn Network's listings often, since individual organizations can add or remove their postings anytime. Other things to keep in mind: Vouchers are nontransferrable and must be presented at the park gate with identification on the day of redemption; deadline is Dec. 15.

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