Making wishes come true: $20,000 in Disney coins donated to foster care agency

Thousands of visitors make a wish and toss a coin into water features across Disney World property every year.

Coins end up in the wishing well at Cinderella Castle, inside the moat of “It’s a Small World” and even in less traditional spots like the temple queue of Expedition Everest.

The coins add up. In the last 20 years, guests have made wishes on more than $325,000 worth of coins.

So, where does the money from the fountains go?

This year, it went to making dreams come true for local children in foster care.

A check for $20,000 was presented by Disney World to Community Based Care of Central Florida (CBC) during a board meeting last week.

“These coins represent wishes made by our guests in a magical place, but the funding the coins provide will make a very real impact on our community,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, director of external affairs at Walt Disney World Resort in a release.

Disney cast members were asked to choose which CBC program they wanted to support with the donation. Thousands cast votes and chose to enhance a youth transitional program that provides financial assistance to young adults exiting the foster care system.

When CBC was chosen last year, cast members picked a sibling connection program that facilitates meet-ups between biological siblings if they are split up during adoption.

“We think it’s great to get input from the cast members on how they think the money should be spent,” said Maureen Brockman, vice president of the CBC Foundation. “It’s a unique aspect of this program.”

CBC is the largest supporter of child welfare programs in Central Florida, and helps provide more than 3,000 children with services like foster care and adoption.

Florida operates its foster care system differently than most other states, Brockman said. About 15 years ago, Florida established regional lead agencies to manage child welfare programs.

These agencies have a contract with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) but work as a non-government not-for-profit organization tasked with placing children in safe, stable foster care and forever homes.

According to Brockman, privatizing the system has allowed groups like CBC to focus on expanding new programs with financial help from private donors like Disney.

“No company is going to donate to the government, but they are happy to donate to a non-profit group that helps foster children,” Brockman said. “This money allows us to do so much for kids.”