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Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap hopes Disney volunteers will be back

The lure of a free day at Disneyland drummed up 700 extra volunteers through March for Kitsap Habitat for Humanity, and leaders are hoping those who turned out to help will stay aboard when they aren’t being compensated.

The program, “Give a Day. Get a Disney Day,” was intended to draw one million people into community service with the promise of a free day at the company’s amusement park in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.

The program, started at the beginning of the year, was a wild success. Disney was prepared to keep the offer open until the end of 2010, but closed it less than a quarter of the way, according to its Web site.

With 700 extra volunteers, Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap Executive Director Lori Oberlander said projects were completed faster, and more projects were started.

The largest mobilization of the Disney volunteers was in serving lunch to other volunteers at work sites, pitching in on construction projects and working as customer service volunteers at the non-profit’s warehouse and Builders Bargain store.

“We still call them volunteers even though they are being compensated,” Oberlander said. “We don’t care where they come from, as long as they come.”

One accomplishment of the program in drawing in so many workers was they were trained and added to the non-profit’s e-mail list, clearing them for further labor and keeping them informed of when and where they can pitch in.

Although many of the workers indicated on a survey they would volunteer when the Give a Day program expires, Oberlander said the next six months will show whether the new workers will follow though.

“Our hope of course is they will come back and feel engaged,” she said.

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