It isn’t difficult. It isn’t complicated. All it takes is a commitment to a cause, or in a group setting it would be a commitment to a common cause.
We are only two days away from the 2011 version of “Make a Difference Day,” an annual focus dedicating a single Saturday — in this case, always the fourth Saturday in October — to helping others. Most “Make a Difference Day” participants work in groups, but the commitment also can be by an individual.
The nationwide effort, sponsored in a partnership by USA Weekend Magazine and the Points of Light Foundation, was launched long ago but our hometown embraced it in 1998 at the behest of its busiest and most well-traveled ambassador — Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.
This year, some 3 million Americans are expected to actively work in a community-enhancing event that truly will “make a difference” in the life, or lives, of others.
It is already happening this year locally thanks to the good work of people-first organizations like 100 Black Men of Bradley County Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, Ocoee Region Builders Association, Cleveland Civitan Club and Going Respectively Against Addictive Behaviors, but these are just a small handful.
Countless organizations, civic groups, companies and churches work throughout the year to make life a little better for our hometown neighbors.
“Make a Difference Day” will galvanize their good efforts while sending this profound message about our community throughout the land: “We are our brother’s keeper ... and we will work together through whatever means needed to assure his well-being.”
For those who want a community project, but don’t know where to start, here are just a few ideas:
— Clean a yard for a homebound elderly resident or couple; the tasks can include mowing the lawn, raking leaves, trimming shrubs, cleaning gutters or whatever needs exist.
— Repair the aging roof of a neighbor.
— Pressure wash a home whose siding is covered in mold and mildew.
— Landscape a neglected yard whose greenery has long-since withered to dust.
— Replace dangerously broken or damaged boards to a deck, porch or perhaps a ramp that services a handicapped resident.
— Adopt a section of street, or an entire block, and pick up every piece of litter and cigarette butt in sight.
— Dig out clogged creeks, streams and other waterways to restore a freely flowing current while eliminating a source of flooding.
— Paint a weather-worn house, storage shed or utility structure whose years of neglect have made them an eyesore.
— Help remove clutter from a neighbor’s property.
— Organize a yard sale for a shut-in family that will help to clean a home or property, and see that all proceeds are used to meet their most urgent needs.
— Hold a car wash for donations, all of which may go toward a specific charitable cause.
— Visit a nursing home bearing gifts and spend quality time with its residents while tending to their material needs.
— Select an area school and help clean its grounds or paint its interior.
— Organize a chainsaw crew and cut firewood for a family, or families, in need.
— Pick a nonprofit organization and offer it your group’s volunteer services for a day, whatever the needs might be.
These are just a few ideas.
Individuals and groups participating in a “Make a Difference Day” endeavor are asked to contact Sue Zius in the mayor’s office (476-8931 or email@example.com) and report your chosen project. Then, call again next week and confirm the work’s status, the number of volunteers involved and their full number of hours given on Saturday.
“Making a Difference” in the life of another is filled with potential.
All it takes is an identified need, a group of people and a commitment.
Everything else is personal reward.