USA TODAY - It's one day that changes the world. Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is sponsored annually by USA WEEKEND Magazine and its carrier newspapers. This year's Make A Difference Day is next Saturday, Oct. 26.
More than 3 million people help 20 million others on this annual day of volunteering, sponsored in partnership with Points of Light. Newman's Own, a longtime supporter, provides $130,000 in awards to select Make A Difference Day projects. Awards will be presented in Washington, D.C., next April.
USA WEEKEND's parent company, Gannett, is mobilizing employees in the more than 100 communities it serves. Staffers at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., will encourage healthy habits by planting a fall garden for Mission First's wellness program. Employees at Enquirer Media in Cincinnati will be helping to create and furnish a library at the city's St. Joseph Orphanage. In Indianapolis, Indianapolis Star staffers will clean up Northwestway Park.
At USA WEEKEND, we're constantly amazed and inspired by our readers' volunteer projects. Below are some of the projects taking place around the nation this Make A Difference Day. Go to makeadifferenceday.com to learn more about these volunteer projects, find one near you or get tips to organize a project of your own.
Volunteer Tulsa in Oklahoma is facilitating projects for local volunteers to get hands-on and beautify, brighten, and re-energize streetscaping and community gardens in Tulsa's Kendall Whittier Main Street and RedFork Main Street neighborhoods. Students at Daniel Webster High School are fabricating metal posts for signage in planters, and local merchants and businesses are supporting through in-kind gifts of products and services.
We Care Bears, San Diego. The We Care Bear Project is open to anyone 8 or older. The goal is to create 500 bags of stuffed bears for local police and fire departments to keep in their vehicles to give to children they encounter who may be scared or injured.
Pet Food Drive, South Barrington, Ill. The second annual pet food drive benefits "Young at Heart" Senior Pets, which provides foster care for pets over age 5. The goal is to collect 750 donations of high-quality food.
American Red Cross and Maricopa County Public Health, Phoenix. The project is canvassing to promote fire prevention. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths result from fires in homes without working smoke alarms.
Comics 4 Change, Reedsburg, Wis. Working to enhance youth literacy, the group will be accepting donations of comic books, graphic novels and funds on Make A Difference Day. Books are distributed at comic book fairs, in public libraries, homeless shelters, food pantries, clinics, hospitals, remedial reading programs and police departments.
Brethren Christian Junior & Senior High School, Huntington Beach, Calif. Students will collect used eyeglasses and hearing aids for distribution to low-income people. The Huntington Beach Lions Club will distribute the items.
RSVP of Washington County, Marietta, Ohio. The group is providing a free winterization check of automobiles for senior citizens - checking fluid levels and topping off where needed, checking tire pressure and wear, inspecting belts and hoses, battery, headlights, brake lights, turn signals and marker lights. Upon completion of the check clients will receive a checklist they can take to their preferred garage for any further maintenance.
Concord Neighborhood Center, Indianapolis. The center is sponsoring a rummage sale on Make A Difference Day as part of a philanthropy education program for young people. Proceeds will be directed toward specific philanthropic causes or efforts that students select.
Students and their families will volunteer at the rummage sale, helping to check out patrons, monitor booths, set up and tear down, answer questions, and represent the center.
Sleeping in my Boots, Chicago. The campaign, founded by twin sisters Anita and Danita Ivory, is collecting new shoes for low-income Chicago-area kids. The organization hopes to collect more than 1,000 pairs of shoes.
Coastal Family Health Center, Biloxi, Miss. On Make A Difference Day, the center is hosting a 35th anniversary celebration of providing accessible, quality primary health care services to all people, regardless of economic status.
The event will include food, music, free blood pressure checks, glucose and cholesterol screenings, a Body Mass Index evaluation and eye screenings. Representatives of the CFHC Outreach and Enrollment Program will be on hand to provide enrollment information on the new Affordable Care Act.
During the celebration a tree will be planted signifying the strength and resiliency of CFHC, and a time capsule will be encased to be opened in year 2033. Among the items enclosed will be a letter describing today's cost of food, gas, etc., and a CFHC brochure.
Playworks, DC. Playworks is a national non-profit that works to improve the health and well-being of children. On Make A Difference Day, volunteers will refurbish the Therapeutic Recreation Center.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)