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United Way Blog

Volunteer to Make A Difference

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine has sponsored Make A Difference Day. On Saturday, October 26, 2013, millions of volunteers from around the world united in a common mission to improve the lives of others.

Organizations such as United Way and the local nonprofits we support registered volunteer projects through the Make A Difference Day website. Volunteers found ways to contribute by contacting a local volunteer center or visiting the online registry of projects. Organizations that registered were nominated for a “Newman’s Own” grant of $10,000. The database still serves as a great way for communities to share information about how they are addressing local challenges.

2013 marked United Way of Larimer County's 15th Annual Make A Difference Day. In Larimer County, Make a Difference Day is the largest week of volunteer service in Northern Colorado. Larimer County is regularly one of the largest Make A Difference Day sites in the United States, and was recognized as a Make A Difference Day all-star in 2009 and 2012 in USA Weekend Magazine. This year, thousands of volunteers assised with more than 100 projects to benefit over 50 nonprofit organizations in Ft. Collins and across Larimer County. Projects are for people of all ages and range from serving meals at local homeless shelters, to decorating and assisting with events, to landscaping, trail clean up, fire mitigation work, and much more.

United Way of Marathon County coordinates the largest raking project in the Wausau, WI area on Make A Difference Day to assist elderly and disabled residents in maintaining their homes. Volunteers can rake, help pick up bagged leaves, or contribute to a food, toiletries or outerwear drive.  And United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties connects nonprofits in need of assistance to businesses and organizations, like 5/3rd Bank, Stetson University and the Women’s Initiative of Flagler, who bring volunteers out on Make A Difference Day.  United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties also has trained individuals as project leaders to develop volunteer project ideas, plan the activity and even raise funds for the volunteer event.

Make A Difference Day, United Way Day of Action and other days of service are a great way to jumpstart individual and group volunteer service. If you are eager to start Making A Difference -- today -- you can pledge to become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor. Kids who start to fall behind find it harder to catch up each year and get increasingly frustrated. That’s why simple solutions like volunteer readers and tutors at young ages have proven to be so successful in increasing graduation rates later on.