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October 22, 2013 > You can make a difference

You can make a difference

By Steve Taylor

Feel like one person can't make a difference in this crazy world? Saturday, October 26th is national "Make A Difference Day" and your chance to see just how much impact an individual can make. Join your neighbors who are taking part in dozens of projects to help transform the greater Tri-City area.

"Make A Difference Day" claims to be the largest national day of community service in the United States. Sponsors say millions of volunteers gather around the world in a common mission to improve the lives of others. USA WEEKEND Magazine and Points of Light, an international nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service, have sponsored the event for more than 20 years. Thousands of projects are planned each year involving corporations, communities, nonprofit organizations, entire states, and individuals like you. Regardless of age, location, or resources, every volunteer can accomplish amazing things.

"Newman's Own" supports Make A Difference Day by awarding $10,000 to charities of 10 National Honorees and three City Awardees. In 2012, the City of Fremont won one of the City Awards, highlighting the impact of engaging its citizens in service. Calling Fremont "one of the most diverse cities in the country" where 167 languages are spoken but united in community service, Mayor Bill Harrison said, "Make A Difference Day allows people of all backgrounds to work together to improve our city." Last October, a record number of 1,339 volunteers, led by Fremont's Human Relations Commission, formed a virtual army of good to help their neighbors. Volunteers weeded a community garden, painted schools, cleaned up a creek, fixed code violations at seniors' houses, collected 200 pounds of peanut butter and jelly for the homeless on top of 76 other projects. Fremont has even bigger plans for 2013.

A sample of the 20 major projects already registered on the Make A Difference Day website is the Sabercat Historical Park Revitalization project. Azevada Elementary school and the Environmental Sustainability Commission & Environmental Services will lead volunteers on habitat restoration by weeding, planting trees and plants, applying mulch, and more. Meet at the corner of Paseo Padre Parkway and Quema Drive at 9 a.m.; bring gloves, water, labeled tools, sunscreen and a great attitude! Other opportunities around the city include graffiti removal, stuffing envelopes, cereal and food drives, writing letters to local heroes, and several beautification projects. For more information, visit, call (510) 574-2099 or e-mail

California State University, East Bay students are teaming up with Hayward Shoreline and Keep Hayward Clean and Green by cleaning the parks and shorelines and putting together kits for Alternative Family Services. Come to the campus at 7 a.m. to register, have a short breakfast and kick off, then disperse into the community. Lunch will be served at noon back on campus.

Or you can help the "Mixed Roots Foundation" in Hayward raise awareness at their inaugural Adoptee Day with the San Jose Earthquakes; a very special day for all who have been touched by adoption and foster care. Mixed Roots Foundation teamed up with the San Jose Earthquakes and local community sponsors and partners like Just Desserts, Bay Area Mentoring, African Cradle, and the Post Adoption Center for Education and Research (PACER) to recruit volunteers to give of their time and resources including hosting a free basic 101 soccer clinic for youth (ages 5-17) with a goal to ultimately help promote health, fitness, and cross cultural skills. The event begins at 10 a.m. at 25555 Hesperian Boulevard on the soccer field behind the tennis courts. For more information, call (415) 889-7522 or e-mail

The Milpitas Executive Lions are once again holding their annual event at Seasons MarketPlace, 1535 Landess Avenue. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees can get health screenings, recycle e-waste, donate used glasses for the Lions' ?Sharing the Vision Campaign? and learn about available services and places they can volunteer and make a difference. This year there will also be a car show. For more information, call (408) 430-7830, (408) 772-1432 or e-mail

The Community Advisory Commission is looking for 50 volunteers to be trained by City arborists to help plant trees around the boundary of Milpitas. This is an ongoing project throughout the winter and spring, with training possibly starting in November, as dictated by the number of responses. Training will be held at the Milpitas Community Center on weekends and planting will be done on weekends as well. For more information or to sign up, call Ray Maglalang at (408) 262-8425.

Several Newark and multi-jurisdiction projects are registered at For City volunteer opportunities, contact Maintenance Superintendent Robert Costa at (510) 578-4806 or Community Engagement Specialists Tim Jones (510) 578-4209 or Donna Shearn (510) 578-4379.

Union City:
Seven projects were registered in Union City with volunteer opportunities ranging from tree planting on Appian Way to graffiti abatement at San Andreas Park. Sample projects include painting over graffiti along the sound wall on the Union City Trail system under Highway 880 between Almaden Boulevard and San Andreas Park. Volunteers should wear old clothing, shoes, hat and gloves for painting purposes. Painting, painting tools and water will be provided, but restrooms are not available. To learn more or register for projects, call (510) 675-5373, e-mail, or visit

The best way to get involved is to visit and use the ?Search Projects? button to find projects in your community and beyond. Please note some activities have registration deadlines. Choose the project that best suits you and get out there "you will make a difference".

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