POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Twenty-three years ago, people living in Schuylkill County began “Make A Difference Day.” Today, the tradition goes on.
“It’s a campaign to find needs within your community. Things that you can do to be kind, fill some actual needs. Spread some kindness, some cheer,” Janice Johnston, director of Community Volunteers in Action in Pottsville, said.
Those who participate in “Make A Difference Day” design their own projects to help a non-profit organization or local cause. For example, one group built lending libraries in parks where people could trade books with others. On Tuesday, students from Pottsville Area High School baked cookies to thank the veterans at the Genesis Schuylkill Center Nursing Home for their service.
“I think connecting the younger people with older people helps us create a stronger community and lets us get to know people who have been in the area for quite some time,” Pottsville Area High School student Crystal Wolfe said.
“I encourage people, when you’re driving by your neighborhood and communities, look to see what would make a good project and then do it. It doesn’t have to cost anything,” Johnston said.
“Make A Difference Day” began nationally in 1993, and was part of the ‘Points of Light’ foundation, a federal program that encouraged volunteerism in communities. Schuylkill County began to participate in the unofficial holiday, held every fourth Saturday in October, in 1996. Johnston says the idea behind “Make A Difference Day” caught fire in the county, and so many people wanted to participate that just one day wasn’t enough to finish all the projects.
“We have now expanded that it is a two week period in the middle of October to give everybody an opportunity to participate,” Johnston said.
Johnston says over the years over 200,000 people from Schuylkill County have participated, completing 2,000 projects. This year, there are 108 projects planned.
“Doing good things for people will sort of create a habit out of it, which allows us to become better people,” Wolfe said.
“No project is too small and every effort helps somebody,” Johnston said.