Last Saturday, 50 women in Florida held a baby shower for someone they had never met: an Arkansas woman widowed this summer when her Navy SEAL husband was killed in Afghanistan. They collected more than $2,500 in gifts and filled a journal with heartfelt messages to the family. “We’re a military community,” said organizer Sue Bynum. “We need to take care of our own. Whether we know them or not, they’re ours.”
This was just one story from the three million volunteers who joined together in service on Oct. 22 as part of Make A Difference Day, the largest day of community service each year
For more than two decades, Points of Light has partnered with USA Weekend to sponsor Make A Difference Day. It is the day we celebrate the power of people to use their time, talent, voice and money to create change.
Our collective effort has grown over the years to include people from all walks of life – young and old, families, those from communities large and small. These volunteers see a problem or an opportunity in their community and take action to address it. They touch the lives of millions and find their own lives changed and transformed.
More than 50 HandsOn Network affiliates hosted signature Make A Difference Day projects addressing a variety of community needs. In Washington, D.C., more than 200 volunteers – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his family, and employees from Make A Difference Day sponsors Citi and Gannett – worked together to revitalize J.C. Nalle Elementary School. Students from the school greeted the volunteers with cheers and encouraged them throughout their work – painting, landscaping, play space building and improvements to the school’s library.
Make A Difference Day volunteer projects from around the world included: building houses in Kenya; preparing care packages in Florida for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq; conducting seminars about finance and careers to students in China; renovating an orphanage in Honduras; raising money for police and firefighter widows in New York; packing food and clothing for the homeless in California; rebuilding a park in Massachusetts; cleaning beaches in Brunei, Japan and Guam; and beautifying parks in England and the Philippines.
Along with getting their hands dirty at service projects, these volunteers also voiced their commitment to serve with two million people using the #MDDay11 Twitter hashtag and more than 268,000 engaging on the Make A Difference Day Facebook page.
You can continue to make a difference by submitting your Make A Difference Day project on the DAYtaBANK for an opportunity to win one of 10 $10,000 grants from Newman’s Own for the nonprofit of your choice. Sharing your story also makes you eligible to win one of three $100 Citi prepaid cards or the grand prize of a $500 Citi prepaid card.
As we move into the season of Thanksgiving, Make a Difference Day serves as an important reminder that volunteer service can be a means to strengthen communities and build bonds. We thank USA WEEKEND for its ongoing commitment to not only inform, but also inspire people to action.
Yours in service,
CEO, Point of Light