APOPKA, Fla., May 23, 2011 – Arriving at the Hope CommUnity Center with a Disney grant for $41,000, Walt Disney World cast members awarded the organization its top grant this morning as it marked the end of a 40-day celebration to surprise, recognize and reward organizations that improve the lives of local children. Since April 13, Walt Disney World has given more than $1.2 million in Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants on its journey across Central Florida to shine a spotlight on organizations that educate, develop and care for local youth. "This year, in honor of Disney’s 40-year history in Central Florida, we decided to celebrate with 40-days of giving back to our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Walt Disney World Community Relations. “We are proud of all of Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants recipients. Through their tireless efforts, these deserving organizations are building a brighter future for Central Florida's children and us all.” For the second year in a row, Hope CommUnity Center received the top application-based Disney Helping Kids Shine Grant - the Bob Allen Outstanding Community Service Award. Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton and members of the Allen family were on hand to give $41,000 to the nonprofit's Youth Empowerment Program. “Our founder, Walt Disney, believed very much in celebrating the potential of children and recognizing the responsibility of adults to help shape young lives,” said Crofton. “Here at the Hope CommUnity Center, the Youth Empowerment Program strengthens the academic and emotional well-being of youth so they become active in their families and their community. I’d say Walt would be very proud to know we have selected this program as a model of excellence.” Walt Disney World annually gives Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants to organizations that demonstrate alignment with Disney’s goal of improving children’s lives by focusing on one or more of the following areas: connecting with adults, character development, constructive use of free time and compassion. Of the more than 130 charities that applied for Disney grants this year, 62 were selected to receive funding for their programs.