Each time you turn on the news or open social media, it seems as though the story is extraordinarily negative. In a world that could use more positive vibes, we can all look forward to at least one day out of the year to help make an impact on our community. The good news is, that day is still to come this year, as Make a Difference Day is always celebrated in the fall.

What You Need To Know About Make A Difference Day

​Americans have celebrated Make a Difference Day for a quarter century, with the first celebration occurring in 1992. People celebrate the holiday on the fourth Saturday in October. The holiday is notable in that is allows thousands of volunteers to come together with the simple goal of improving the lives of others.

The idea for Make a Difference Day came about from the idea to have a national day of service. Up through this past year, Tegna, a digital media company, sponsored the holiday. The company’s website stated that the holiday was significant because it showed that anyone could make an impact in their community, no matter their age, gender, race, or background.

Because Tegna is a digital media company, they were able to raise awareness and spread information about the holiday. For example, famed news anchor Lester Holt recorded a message last year encouraging others to participate in the holiday. With their extensive media platform, Tegna was able to help grow the holiday into one of the largest nationwide single-days of service.  

woman holding candles

Since 1992, the day of celebration has grown to become an international phenomenon. More than 30 countries now participate in the holiday. Last year, people in these countries dedicated more than 30 million service hours with the intention of giving back to their community. These hours equated to a $635 million annual dollar value. These countries were responsible for more than 250,000 projects.  

The holiday is unique because it is more representative of an overlying theme of giving. The holiday is about nothing more than making a difference in your community. There are no set criteria on how you can do so. Some people choose to partake in small projects, while others prefer to participate in larger projects. No matter the size of your project, it’s more important that you make a positive impact.

Unfortunately, Tegna announced that they would no longer be a partner in the Make a Difference Day initiative. But, we’re confident in the fact that thousands of Americans will still participate in the celebration. The holiday has a longstanding tradition. Even if a corporate sponsor does not partner with the event, you could join in the annual tradition of making a change.  

How To Celebrate Make A Difference Day

​When it comes to celebrating Make a Difference Day, the possibilities are endless. That’s because as long as it makes a positive impact on your community, you’re participating in the day’s celebration. But saying that, we provided numerous suggestions on how to celebrate the day. The ideas you’ll find below should leave you feeling fulfilled and satisfied on the fourth Saturday of October.

Join A Project

If you are looking to celebrate the day for the first time, one of the best ways to do so is by finding a local project in which you could participate. You can search online to find Make a Difference Day projects in your area. Last year, you could go to this website to discover a project near you by entering your:

  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code

Planning a large-scale event could be overwhelming for some, which is why participating in an event could be a smarter option. If you cannot find a project by using the link above this year, a basic internet search should reveal celebratory plans in your area. These online listings should provide information about how to get involved in the project, and likely contain contact information for event organizers.

As an example, take a look at the work that residents of Hilton, New York completed last year. Last year marked the 10th annual year that the district participated in the celebration. The town’s day last year consisted of 250 volunteers and 1,000 participants who worked together to complete 15 unique projects. It was a near certainty that residents could find a project on which they wanted to work.

Celebrating the holiday not only made a positive impact regarding charitable services, but it also brought the community closer together. Many said that the day was not about one particular organization, but about everyone working together. They went on to say that the community ended up becoming more cohesive because of the day of service, demonstrating the powerful impact of the day.

Arrange A 5K Walk Or Run

man running

One of the most popular events of the day is a 5K Walk or Run. Nationwide, there are hundreds of communities who organize a benefit walk on that day to raise money for a particular cause. The fourth Saturday in October tends to be an excellent time for a benefit walk because of the weather. In many parts of the country, the crisp fall air has begun to set in, making for a beautiful morning.

Benefit walks are a great idea because you can raise money for any cause. Perhaps you’ve had a family member impacted by an illness lately. Or maybe a local community recently suffered from a natural disaster. No matter what you choose, you can rest assured that you’ll be making a positive impact on your community.

If you have never organized a significant event or service project before, there is a marketing and logistical toolkit that the day’s organizers provide. There is a lot that goes into planning an event like this, and the work does not necessarily end the day-of. Project reports and feedback go a long way toward making the event more successful next year.

With diligent preparation, you can increase the likelihood of your event’s success. But, you should also prepare for hiccups along the way. As you become more familiar with hosting these types of events, you’ll better understand how you should run them. By being flexible in your first year or two, you’ll increase the likelihood that the event’s guests leave satisfied.

Organize A Clothing Or Food Drive

different canned and packed foods

Clothing and food drives are also two great ways to help celebrate the day. They don’t require much logistical planning, and people can participate in them comfortably. These drives could be particularly beneficial if homelessness is a significant problem in your area. In America, there are over half a million people on any given night who do not have access to permanent housing.

If you are organizing a food drive, be sure to ask people to donate items that are unused. Canned goods typically work best. You should also ensure that the food has not expired. Otherwise, the homeless shelter or food bank you choose to give the food to may reject it. If you ask for clothing, used clothes are acceptable. If donating used clothing, it should be gently worn.

Another alternative to clothing or food is to donate school supplies for children in need. This task is also easy for many people, especially those with children. They often have old backpacks, binders, and other school supplies that their children have outgrown but are still in usable condition. These supplies could go a long way toward helping a child receive their education.

Get Creative

covering with foil

Although you may find fulfillment participating in a grand event like a 5K Benefit Walk or a food drive, you do not have to do so to make a positive impact in your community. Some people feel that the best way to make a difference in their community is by doing something that is unnoticed or does not require any recognition.

For this, the opportunities are endless. Take a look around your community and identify a way you could help. For example, maybe there is trash scattered around your local park. Take a trash bag and clean your park, making it more inviting for children in the area. Or, perhaps there’s an elderly neighbor who could use help cleaning their gutters or raking the leaves in their yard. 

Enjoy The Company Of Others

gentlemen having a conversation

Although this is not necessarily a specific idea for celebrating the day, it’s something to keep in mind when making your plans for the fourth Saturday of October. Many people find that the day is fulfilling because they are making a difference in the presence of others, building new bonds with others in the community. Most appreciate meeting new like-minded people.

But, you may also find it beneficial to participate in the day with your friends or family. Regardless, we recommend going into the day with an open mind. Celebrating the day should be a joyous occasion, filled with many memories. If you prepare for a fun day and surround yourself with good company, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to celebrate the holiday again next year.