WARREN - Make A Difference Day is marking its 11th anniversary locally and 23rd nationally Oct. 26, a day volunteers around the world will spend improving their community.
Last year, there were 68 registered groups in Trumbull County. Services have included sewing blankets for ill children, making cards for veterans and construction projects from Liberty to Bristol. Whether there are hammers and hard hats or sewing needles and thimbles, no project is too big or small.
"Projects don't have to be expensive. That's the beauty of Make A Difference Day," Sue Shafer, Tribune Chronicle events coordinator, said. "Merely spending time with someone can make a difference in that person's life."
Matthew Farley, 16, of Newton Falls, helps tear down the batting cage at Community Park in Newton Falls during last year’s Make A Difference Day.
In past years, a group of high school students brought carnations to and spent the day with people in Trumbull Probate Court Judge Thomas Swift's Guardian Angels program, Shafer said.
"This project impacted both the students and the people who received the flowers," she said
It doesn't matter if it's a Kiwanis group, members of a youth or church group, a couple of high school students or some neighbors working together, all participants are welcome.
Shafer said an entire school can even participate by raising money or collecting nonperishable food items. Schools can finish their projects the day before Make A Difference Day.
"The students can raise money for a few weeks and then present the check to an organization, or collect food and then take to the mission on Oct. 26," she said.
If a group is looking for a way to participate but doesn't know what to do, Shafer said she has that covered.
"Need an idea? Give me a call. I'm always glad to help out," she said.
"If you don't want to do a huge project but want to donate, take extra items to a drop-off location. Projects are always looking for assistance."
Or you can organize your own project. A group of 17 people or a one-man band, every act makes a difference.
Though it's locally sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, Make A Difference Day is a national program sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine.
The Tribune Chronicle has won two national awards for its work with the Trumbull County Make A Difference Day. Its 2003 Make A Difference Day was recognized by USA Weekend Magazine as one of the nation's best. In 2007, it received the Encore Award.
Though the newspaper isn't eligible for national awards, Shafer said all local volunteers should register their projects with ServeOhio.org so they have an opportunity to win a state or national award.
She said some people do projects each year but don't register locally or nationally, and she strongly encourages everyone involved to do both for a chance to win recognition for their efforts.
"I like volunteering, and Make A Difference Day is just a day for that," she said. "It warms you heart to see how many people do care and spend their time with a project."
Project registration forms for the Tribune Chronicle's Make A Difference Day will be running regularly until the Friday, Oct. 11 deadline.
Those who have further questions, need more information or would like to volunteer can contact Shafer at 330-841-1696 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.