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Make A Difference Day: 6 Ways To Help Your Community

Volunteering from a young age can teach kids both compassion and work ethic. Credit: Northern Virginia Magazine.

National Make A Difference Day is all about community. Because it’s true that some of the seemingly insignificant things done or said by others can make a difference in the lives of those around them.

I am reminded of this when a former student recognizes me, walks over and proceeds to relate how something I said years ago during a history lecture made a change in his or her life.

Saturday, October 26th is National Make a Difference Day, and it reminds us to voluntarily open the doors of opportunity to others as we walk down the hallway of life.


Volunteering To Make A Difference

On February 29, 1992, USA Weekend suggested volunteering to its readers; since it was a leap year, they said Americans should take the extra day and use it to something positive in their communities or for those in need.

It makes no difference where one volunteers to help – it can be a food bank, a nursing home, a non-profit social agency, or a project in a neighborhood that needs clean up or painting.

In this spirit of making a difference in the lives of others, President George H.W. Bush said the following in his 1991 State of the Union Address:

We have within our reach the promise of a renewed America. We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light. And it is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child’s hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there, a volunteer’s generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.


Make A Difference Day

In quiet and small ways across the nation, Americans can provide a gesture of generosity that makes a difference in some of the following ways:

1. Organize a food drive

One in six Americans goes to bed hungry.  To join in the efforts to defeat this scourge, contact a local supermarket and ask to set up a collection point for dry products, bottled water, canned and baby foods.

Announcing the event beforehand on social media will certainly help.  And when the event is ended, donate everything to a homeless shelter or food bank.

2. Arrange a Recycling Event

Coordinate with a recycling or waste collection company to have separate, large bins placed in central locations throughout your municipality.  Glass, paper, rubber, plastics, batteries – all of these items can be then picked up and recycled.

3. Clean Up a Local Park

Working outdoors is good exercise and a way to make a statement about the value of parks and beaches.  Gather with some like-minded friends, bring along some shovels, rakes, gloves and lots of trash bags and pick up all the trash.

4. Visit a Veterans’ Hospital or Home 

Outside of their comrades in the facility, these veterans would welcome a smiling face, perhaps a plate of cookies, and some friendly conversation.  This makes a difference to these individuals who have served us all.

5. Organize a Blood Drive  

Blood banks are always in need of blood.  Contact an area blood bank and make a plan to promote the event.  Through social media, inform the community in advance of this opportunity to donate blood and, if willing, to sign up on a bone marrow database.

Even if one person donates – and yes this includes you – someone else’s life may be saved.  Talk about making a difference!

6. Volunteer at An Animal Shelter 

Why not?  It’s as easy as contacting the nearest animal shelter and asking what needs to be done and how help can be given.  The difference you make will help the shelter’s employees – and you might just make a four-legged friend for life.


Opening the Door of Opportunity

Finding the time and desire to step up to make a difference is not easy, but the benefits are enormous. Volunteering offers hope and help to those in need; and it can lead to a greater connection to your community, and it makes a difference.

National Make A Difference Day, and the millions of Americans who voluntarily open the doors of opportunity, is a far better thing to engage in than watching doors be slammed shut in other segments of our culture.

As one unknown writer wrote, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy.  You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

Make a difference.

Read about how this unit in World War II made a difference by fooling Nazis with their elaborate art.


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