Give Kids The World Village lays off 86% of staff, closes indefinitely for Covid-19

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Give Kids The World Village, the Central Florida-based nonprofit that fulfills wishes for critically ill children and their families, will be closed for an undetermined period of time due to unforeseen circumstances directly related to COVID-19.

As part of the closure, the organization will be forced to lay off 86% of its staff effective Saturday, June 27, 2020. A small team will remain to ensure the safety and security of the Village and to prepare for their eventual re-opening.

Despite their closure, the organization will still be fulfilling their mission to never turn a child away. “While we’re closed, we will still be working with our wish granting partners to fulfill rush wishes,” said Pamela Landwirth, Give Kids The World Village President & CEO in an open letter to their constituents.

“I can promise you that I will work tirelessly to find a way to reopen our beloved Village as soon as possible. The health and well-being of our precious wish children is our number one priority as well as the priority of our theme park and wish granting partners,” said Landwirth.

The organization will need the support of donors and community partners more than ever. If you’d like to donate to help fulfill a rush wish, or to assist with our re-opening funds, you can do so at

The open letter:

Dear Village Family,

It is with a heavy heart that I must share some devastating news both for me personally and for our entire Village family.

Unforeseen circumstances directly related to COVID-19 have resulted in Give Kids The World having to remain closed. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, our majority wish-granting partner, unexpectedly notified us that due to COVID-19, it would not be scheduling any wishes that involve travel or large groups, until a vaccine is in wide use. In addition, although the theme parks are reopening, we are uncertain as to when they will be able to welcome vulnerable guests, including our wish children.

The Village, therefore, will remain closed for an undetermined period of time. Unfortunately, this means we must lay off the majority of our staff effective Saturday, June 27, 2020. A small team will remain to ensure the safety and security of the Village and to nurture our relationships with you - our alumni families, volunteers, wish granting organizations, donors and other partners as well as prepare for our eventual reemergence. We will continue to honor our commitment to never turn a wish child away. If there is a rush wish prior to our reopening, we will work with our wish granting partners to fulfill that wish.

I can promise you that I will work tirelessly to find a way to reopen our beloved Village as soon as possible.

With love,
Pamela Landwirth
Give Kids The World Village CEO & President

Jason Hammond's avatar

While the layoffs themselves are not surprising. What is surprising is that it's just now happening.

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Jeff's avatar

I don't think it's surprising. There's a lot of misplaced optimism that has carried people since the beginning. There are segments of the population however that can see why this will likely get worse before it gets better.

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Jeff's avatar

According to the Sentinel, this is 171 jobs:

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ApolloAndy's avatar

Man, that really blows. Totally understandable and unavoidable and a little surprising that it took this long, but still so terrible. We think of amusement parks and WDW in particular as a place for kids to totally escape reality. How tragic that it is now one of the most dangerous places for kids who need that escape the most.

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Wonder if they got a paycheck protection program loan. Initial period for determining loan forgiveness was 8 weeks (recently extended to 24 weeks). If they got a PPP loan in late April, 8 week period would be around the end of June. They may have retained employees to maximize forgiveness (laying off people during time period reduces forgiveness) and after that time period, they have to reduce headcount because they cannot pay employees. Otherwise, its surprising they kept the employees around until the end of June.

Triple whammy for them. One, they are dealing with ill kids the vast majority of whom are at risk for Covid. Two, wishes they offer typically involve travel which is problematic at this point. Third, they depend in large part on donations and at this point with the economic uncertainty, may people/companies have pulled back on charitable contributions. If all businesses were similar, we would be totally shut down. Thankfully we are not. Though it sucks for the kids and their families.

Edited to add: They did get a PPP loan. Didn't see article Jeff posted until after I posted.

After the village shuttered March 18, it continued to pay employees and cover benefits, Landwirth said, largely thanks to the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Last edited by GoBucks89,

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