5 things to know about... Make a Difference Day

Judy Milner, left, and Mardine Larsen trim bushes at Cancer Care of NCW/Our House in Wenatchee on Make a Difference Day 2015.

The area’s 26th Make A Difference Day is Saturday, Oct. 22. The largest day of community service in the world is open to anyone who wants to make the place they live a little better. 

This year will draw together thousands of like-minded people to 60 projects and events from the Greater Wenatchee Valley, Waterville, Malaga, Quincy, Pateros and into the Leavenworth area where you can not only clean up along a scenic river, but celebrate afterward with a good old-fashioned autumn “cider squeeze.”

What can you do this year to make a difference?

You can take a picture with your dog in Halloween costume to support FIDO and the new off-leash park. You can ride the Loop Trail (in costume!) to benefit students with Wenatchee Valley College Alumni Association scholarships. You can take a suicide prevention class to help someone in a future time of need. You can clean out the ditches in the flood-ravaged canyons; pick up litter at Pioneer Park while watching graffiti painted into a cool mural; help winterize Ohme Gardens, Our House, Camp Zanika Lache or an eastside cemetery; improve Wenatchee and Waterville trails; create a new park in Malaga; buy a community cookbook to contribute to fire relief. You can even help the Red Cross install smoke detectors.

This year, kids with disabilities will be cheered for at the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness; food banks will be refilled for the holidays and more; diapers by the thousands are being collected by the Junior Service League. Hats for children are being made in Quincy. Folks are showing support for the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota with an East Wenatchee fundraiser. And you can learn calligraphy to build a bridge of friendship between Wenatchee and Misawa, Japan.

Pybus Market in Wenatchee is an information hub and collection point for some of the projects. A dozen groups will tell you about how you can make a difference all year long.

If you are new to the area or haven’t heard of Make A Difference Day, here are some things to know:

1. This is a perfect way to make a friend or connect with the place you live. Join in the fun. You are needed. Most communities in North Central Washington have projects to join, but you can always make up your own. In fact, we encourage you to look around you and find something you are passionate about to contribute to. No project is too small. You can even grab a garbage bag and pick up litter on your morning walk or at your child’s soccer game. No need to report. Just do a good deed or a kindness.

2. You will find inspiration and motivation, donations sites and details, organized projects and more at this website: wenatcheemkdd.com. Enter your project here, too. It will help avoid duplication and give others a way to plug in. Projects are also listed on our pink flier, donated by Commercial Printing, which you’ll see posted across the valley.

3. Our well-established tradition of “see a need, do a good deed” on the fourth Saturday of October is grass-roots, straight-from-the-heart-giving and it reaches into nearly corner of our community. Organizations and communities depend on this day to be strengthened, cleaned up and rejuvenated. Each project has a wonderful story behind it — from the organizers and the volunteers to the recipients. Just ask Melissa and Makenna Schwab. They are collecting toys and activities for kids ages 8 to 16 (for Seattle Children’s Hospital) where Makenna has been a regular patient since birth. Drop your donations off at Wenatchee Pediatric Dentistry.

4. Our area has been a leader in Make a Difference Day since the beginning. In 1992, local efforts led to receiving the first national award which named us the Make a Difference Day Community of the Year. The community received “Encore Awards” for outstanding Make a Difference Day efforts in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2011, as well as an “honorable mention” for work in 1994. USA Weekend Magazine officially started the day which now has millions of participants around the world.

5. To get you thinking, all these donations are needed on Make A Difference Day (go to wenatcheemkdd.com for collection sites): adult coloring books (new); baby wipes; bark dust; bikes (all types — kids, adults, new/used); blankets and quilts; Christmas stocking stuffers; cleaning supplies; coats (all sizes); decorative bark; diapers — plus training pants, baby wipes, baby formula; eye glasses (used); fabric — any kind (used, stained, old clothes, belts, purses, etc.); food (easily prepared, non-perishable); gasoline gift cards; gloves (for all ages); hats (for all ages); hearing aids (used); hospital kit items (packs of mint gum, new adult socks, razors, small lotion bottles, individual sanitizers, small pads of paper, individually wrapped chocolates and hard candies, crossword/puzzle books); hygiene supplies; kitchen products; kitten food and supplies (baby bottles and nipples, scales for weighing, rawhides, ‘rice filled winter socks’ for warming kitties after surgery); Lego sets; monetary donations; Nerf basketball sets (new); paper towels; PG-PG13 DVDs; quilt tops and fabric for quilts, quilting supplies; scarves (warm); sewing machines (in working order); skis and snowboards; socks (ages 0-18); teddy bears (used or new and clean); toys for teens in the hospital; travel-size toiletries; undergarments (child to teen sizes); USB chargers; winter clothing; yarn.