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Illinoisans Encouraged to “Make a Difference”

PHOTO: On Saturday, students from Western Illinois University will join millions of Americans in the largest community service effort in the nation. Photo of students volunteering. Courtesy WIU.
PHOTO: On Saturday, students from Western Illinois University will join millions of Americans in the largest community service effort in the nation. Photo of students volunteering. Courtesy WIU.
October 25, 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Thousands of Illinoisans will step up and give back to their communities Saturday as part of national Make a Difference Day.

The event is the largest day of community service, as millions of volunteers across the country work on projects to help others.

At Western Illinois University, students will volunteer at five different sites.

Erik Heller, graduate adviser at the university’s Office of Student Activities, says there's a lot of excitement, and many first-timers end up continuing their service efforts throughout the year.

"Student say this was a great way for them just to give back to the community,” he says. “And these are students who haven't really volunteered before, but they are getting those experiences where they say, 'Wow, I can make a difference, just in one morning.'"

Projects to be tackled by Illinois volunteers include food drives, making care packages for troops, collecting clothing for people who are homeless, and cleaning up neighborhoods, parks and highways.

Heller says Make a Difference Day encourages people to think about how they can make service a part of their everyday life.

Afterward, his students will have a group discussion and reflect on the work they completed.

"How did this event make you feel, or how can you translate this back to your organization that you're a part of?” he says. “It's building that civic awareness and sense of citizenship, and how can you continue to give back to your community."

Make a Difference Day has been observed for more than 20 years by businesses, government leaders and charitable groups.

This year, an estimated 3 million volunteers are expected to take part nationwide.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL