Next Saturday, Oct. 27, is the 11th annual "Make A Difference Day," the largest national day of volunteering.

On the fourth Saturday of each October, millions of Americans spend the day helping others. Last year, 2.2 million people cared enough about their communities to volunteer on that day, accomplishing thousands of projects in hundreds of towns and helping an estimated 25 million people.

Already, on the Make A Difference Day national "Daytabank," a local project has been registered for next Saturday: Charles Spencer School in Tifton is planning its Make a Difference Day for senior citizens in its neighborhood. The students are planning a luncheon for their older neighbors, and sponsoring activities such as arts and crafts, games, and music.

Of course, projects don't have to be registered; registration on the Internet merely helps others see what projects are planned in their communities.

Anyone can get involved on Make A Difference Day -- organized groups, a family, even an individual. Your project may be as ambitious as collecting a truckload of food for the hungry, or as personal as raking your elderly neighbor's yard.

The Tifton Gazette is a proud sponsor of this Saturday's Make A Difference Day, along with more than 500 other newspapers that carry USA Weekend magazine, which you receive in your Sunday paper.

USA Weekend, in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation, is the national sponsor of this national day of doing good.

After participating on Saturday, go online to makeadifferenceday.com to get an entry form so that you will be counted among the millions of volunteers and can be considered for a national award. Also check Sunday's USA Weekend about entering your project.

Each year in April, hundreds of good deeds done on Make A Difference Day are selected for honors, headlines and charitable donations.

The top 10 projects in the nation receive, for the charity of their choice, $10,000 each from actor Paul Newman, who donates all after-tax profits from sales of "Newman's Own" products to educational and charitable purposes.

These 10 honorees, plus hundreds of local honorees, will be spotlighted in an April 2002 USA Weekend issue, coinciding with National Volunteer week. The 10 winners also are invited to a special recognition banquet in Washington, D.C.

In a public service announcement now appearing on TV, First Lady Laura Bush says: "To the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have volunteered in recent weeks, thank you. To the thousands more who still want to know what they can do, Oct. 27 is Make A Difference Day. Take a minute, an hour, or the entire day, and mentor a child, work a food bank, or simply offer a word of kindness. You'll find you can make all the difference in the world."

For ideas and more information, call the Make A Difference Day hotline at 1-800-416-3824 or log onto www.makeadifferenceday.com and read what others are doing.

And let us know here at The Tifton Gazette what projects you are undertaking in our community. Each one of us can make a difference; let's resolve to make a difference in our world this Saturday.



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