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October 18, 2011 > Make a difference

Make a difference

By Mauricio Segura

There is a certain feeling that comes over a person after a day of volunteering. Volunteering gives people the chance to give back in a way that is personally fulfilling. The knowledge of having a part in putting a smile on someone's face who has had little to smile about, helping to feed someone who would otherwise have gone to bed hungry, or helping build a ramp that will allow a wheelchair bound person get to their destination easier is all reward enough at days end.

October 22 marks the 19th annual "Make a Difference Day," the perfect day to set aside for volunteering and improving the lives of the less fortunate and the community as a whole. What started off as a simple idea in a 1992 issue of the USA Today's Weekend Magazine, has since spread to become the largest community service project in the nation. People from all walks of life come together, year after year, to make a difference in their communities. From corporate heads, politicians, charitable organizations, celebrities, and everyday people, 3 million people a year use this opportunity to give back.

Locally, there are many activities planned to allow volunteers to "Make A Difference." The Tri-City Free Breakfast Program will host a special Peanut Butter Drive on Saturday, October 22, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Irvington Presbyterian Church parking lot located at 4181 Irvington Avenue in Fremont. The Tri-City Free Breakfast Program feeds around 150 needy in our community every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. "We give away donated bread, but it would be wonderful if the poor and homeless had protein to put on that bread," says Volunteer Program Director Karen Jaycox.

The Santa Clara Silicon Valley Alumni Network and Theta Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi are hosting "Let's Get up and Paint!" with Fremont's Abode Services in honor of Brother Lon Doty, a Bay Area Deltasig who passed away earlier this year and who co-founded Abode. Painters, carpenters and gardeners are just a few of the many volunteering positions needed at the Sunrise Village Emergency Shelter. Call (831) 359-1669 or

Those in Hayward can join CSU East Bay and the City of Hayward in making a difference; they will be volunteering from 8 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Contact (510) 885-7069 or

Help clean up Lake Elizabeth in Fremont (call (510) 790-5541) or the Dominican Sisters are looking for volunteers to work in their organic garden from 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Call (510) 657-1812 to help. Those who want to volunteer for other projects or start their own can contact Make a Difference Day Project Manager Christine Beitsch at or (510) 574-2099.

There are countless ways to make a difference. Calling charities like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and asking what they are planning in your area is a great start. There are many food shelters and churches where people can volunteer to hand out clothes or serve food. Stores such as Goodwill are excellent places to volunteer; clothes and items need to be sorted for sale or distribution. Local police and fire departments can also direct volunteers to worthwhile projects.

On a more intimate neighborhood or family level, people can set their own tasks. Neighbors can get together and volunteer to help clean a local park. Kids and adults alike can plan a neighborhood event and donate proceeds to a favorite charity.

Though Make A Difference Day is an annual event, making a difference should be a daily aspiration for everyone. We all have talents that may benefit a less fortunate individual; why not pay it forward? At the end of the day, you've helped make the world a little better. And who wouldn't want to live in a better world?

Make A Difference Day
Saturday, October 22
local government or non-profit organization websites

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