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How to Make a Difference by Helping Others

Updated on June 22, 2014

National Make A Difference Day: Fourth Saturday in October Annually


What is Make a Difference Day?

It’s been over 20 years since USA Weekend Magazine and the Points of Light Foundation joined together to sponsor Make a Difference Day. Yet, there are people who still have not heard of it.

This special day is a celebration of community service; neighbors helping neighbors, improving the lives of others. Unique projects are planned and coordinated across the nation. But keep in mind that simple, kind gestures make a difference too.

When is Make a Difference Day?

Annually, the fourth Saturday of October.

Note: This special day is also referred as National Day of Doing Good.


Newman’s Own Foundation

The Newman’s Own Foundation donates all of its profits to charity, continuing the commitment started by Paul Newman in 1982. They are a huge supporter of Make a Difference Day.

Every year following Make a Difference Day, the Newman’s Own Foundation gives grants of $10,000 each to the charities of 10 National Honorees. In addition, another $10,000 each is given to three City Awardees.

To be considered for these grants, follow the instructions to enter your project information HERE.

At the same website linked above, you can also find starter kits and marketing tools that will assist you in creating a memorable Make a Difference Day. There is also a page where you can search for current projects in your area by simply entering your zip code.

There are so many ways to Make a Difference!

National Day of Doing Good

Have you ever participated in Make a Difference Day?

See results

Kind Gestures Come in a Variety of Sizes

Whether you choose to get involved in an all-day project or something that may take you five minutes, every kind gesture makes a difference.

Be sure to involve children in making a difference whenever possible. Here are a variety of ideas to get you started.


Volunteer Community Service Projects Ideas

Outdoor Neighborhood Clean Up: Gather a group together and clean up a neighborhood. Paint a community mural to beautify the neighborhood.

Park or Beach Area: Clean up a specific park or beach area. Paint picnic tables and benches to give them new life. Restore a playground to make it safe for visitors.

Compost: Build a neighborhood compost to save money and help the environment.

Home Maintenance: Choose a home that belongs to someone who is unable to keep up the maintenance. Clean up, wash windows, and make home repairs and other types of chores to help this neighbor in need.

Local Business: Choose a local business that is struggling and make a difference. Plan a special event to bring in business or maybe a fundraising event to help the business keep afloat.

Community Center: Volunteer to clean up a community center. Repair things that are broken. Donate or fundraise for the center.

Military Service: Prepare care packages to send to men and women in the military.

Collection for Those Less Fortunate: Set up a location for donations to be dropped off for distribution to people who are in need of things like food, toiletries, clothes, shoes, books, school supplies, toys, monetary donations, etc.

Going Green: Plan activities such as recycling, planting trees or building a community garden.


Project Ideas for Individuals or Families

Donate Your Services: For example, offer discounted car washes, free hair cuts, low-cost resumes, bicycle repair, etc.

Elderly Neighbors: Take some time check on an elderly neighbor and visit with them. Help them with something they are unable to do. Maybe coordinate a project such as building a wheelchair ramp.

Cook a Meal: Prepare a meal for someone in need and deliver it to them.

House & Yard Clean Up: Help out a neighbor by cleaning up their yard and/or home.

Nursing Home or Hospice: Spend time at a nursing home or hospice visiting with residents. Keep them company by getting involved in their daily activities. Provide entertainment for them.

Babysit: Offer to babysit for someone who really needs a break.

Homeless Shelter/Food Pantry: Spend time volunteering at a homeless shelter or food pantry.

Animal Shelter: Volunteer to work at an animal shelter for a day.

"Make a Difference" Ideas that Take Little Time or Effort

Kind Gesture
Just Do It
At everyone you see
Write a letter or send a card
Let someone know you are thinking of them
Make a phone call
Contact someone who is lonely
Make someone feel special
Hug someone today
Every little kind gesture makes a difference!

Paying It Forward

Here's another great article you may be interested in by Millionnaire Tips:

The Power of Doing Good Deeds for Other People

Make a Difference EVERY Day

I love doing nice things for people all year long; acts of unconditional kindness when they least expect it. You can Make a Difference too.

This is Sharyn's Slant


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    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 3 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Shawna ~ sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment. So glad you liked these ideas.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      These are all great ideas, Sharyn, and so easy to do. I was unaware of this dedicated day. I'll check out the website and see what's going on in my area.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Susan ~ thank YOU! You definitely make a difference in my life too.

      Rebecca ~ I love volunteering and helping others. I wish I could just do that and not have to work for a living. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Volunteering to help others is such a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for reminding us all to be humanitarians.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      What a wonderful list of things to do to make a difference!! :-) You make a difference in my life nearly every day.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      OMG, why am I not receiving my comment notification emails? I am so sorry I am just seeing these now.

      Vicki, FlourishAnyway, Esmeowl12, cygnetbrown, CC (Cyndi), Livingsta, Peg, Hunbbel, Mary, StThomas ~ thank you all for stopping by to read and comment. National Make a Difference Day is coming up in a few weeks. It's time to think about what we all can do to make a difference. Thank you, everyone, for your feedback.

      p.s. CC, lucky day for Ralphie :)

      Esmeowl12, I love that you treat the person behind you in the drive through line - that is WAY cool!

    • StThomasBoatRent profile image

      StThomasBoatRent 4 years ago from St. Thomas, USVI

      Thank you for enlightening the people about the National Day of Helping Others.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Good time to resurrect this hub and remind us all to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

      I like the way you listed different things to try.

      A great reminder to all of us.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Hunbbel Meer profile image

      Syed Hunbbel Meer 4 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan.

      Hats off to those who thought of this wonderful idea. There is no better thing than to bring smile on someone else's face. Great effort by spreading the word. Voted up! :)

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is so good, something to make a difference in someone's life. I have not heard of anything like this here, will sure have a look. Thank you for sharing this with us. :-)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome hub! A few years ago, I volunteered at a housing project to create gardens and playgrounds as part of Make a Difference Day. I was in Americorps. That was also the day I found a kitten...he was in a box with nine other kittens...that kitten became my Ralphie. I remember that day clearly in 2008. :) Aww...I should do this again. Thanks for sharing this.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      What a great idea to have a day in the fall in which to make a difference in the world! There are so many ways we can make a difference if we would only pay attention.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I like this idea very much Sharyn. Thanks for making me aware of this important day when communities come together to do good. How refreshing.

    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 4 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Great hub! I've never participated on "the day," but enjoy treating the person behind me in the drive-thru to a free meal on occasion.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Such a nice hub. Doing good work not only helps others but also feels great. I've never heard of this "official day" but now that I have we'll see if the family cannot get together and find a way to celebrate it.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is such a neat idea, Sharon! I'm sure most of us never remember it. It should be on the calendar as a national holiday!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Kelly, you stay away from that neighbor, ha. Be civil but I don't recommend doing anything special for him. Making a difference would be ignoring him and not taking his crap. I'm sure there are other neighbors that you can do things with/for that aren't cruel and evil like your one neighbor. Thanks for your fun (and silly) feedback.


    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I have never heard of this! Thanks for sharing:)

      I got a little giggle though - I was imagining myself walking next door and asking the "neighbor" if he wanted to save compost together to help the environment. bahahaha

      Excellent hub:)

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hiya SZ ~ I wonder if you have something like this in Canada? Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Dr.BJ ~ Of course not, making a difference should be on a daily basis. There are so many simple, kind gestures that can really have a positive effect on someone. Thanks for stopping by.


    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I'd never heard of this day. What a wonderful way to get out there and help others.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      What a neat holiday, Sharon. But making a difference in someone's life should not be confined to just one day. We can do it every day in the year with something as simple, as you point out, as a smile, a compliment or hug.

      Thanks for the reminder, m'dear.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Thelma ~ awwww, I love your story about your friend and the prayer he would say every day. Awesome. It truly reminds me of my grandmother. I swear she lived for everyone else, always doing good for others. The world would be an even better place if everyone felt that way. Thanks you so much for your great feedback.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Paula ~ Thank you, I enjoyed doing the interview.

      I really love that idea of living in a small community where everyone helps each other all year long. And hey, I'm on Lake Erie too! Well, kinda, about 10 miles south :) Thank you so much for your feedback. I hope you and your neighbors enjoy Make a Difference Day this year.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Brenda ~ Yes, we all can make a difference, one at a time. Your son sounds like an awesome kid and I'm sure you two will come up with some great ideas for Make a Difference Day. Thanks so much for your feedback.


    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Sharyn your article made me think of a dear friend who passed away this year at age 93. His widow shared with us at the funeral that every morning when he woke up he would say a little prayer: "Lord, please let me help someone today". And he did!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Sharyn (1st of all....Great interview!).........I'm happy to say, I believe due to the rather small size of our community and that so many residents are familiar with the others, we are able to do a lot of group activities in terms of "improvement" to residents and community.

      We do participate in many neighborhood and town efforts to bring about improvements. All voluntary, free, healthy and helpful, not to mention it increases a general feeling of pride.

      Make a difference Day is a busy one around here. We are situated on Lake Erie....beaches galore!

      Thanks for this Sharyn....a great thing to shre with your readers!....UP+++

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      We can all make a difference one at a time, over and over. Thanks for this great information. I had not heard about Make a Difference Day but will commit to it. I love that my little boy has a servant's heart and loving. He will like this also.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi RTalloni ~ You are very welcome. I appreciate you for stopping by to read and comment. Thank you so much!


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Kevin ~ I understand, since I am surprised so many people have not heard of this day either. I hope this helps get the word out. Thanks so much for stopping by.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Kelley ~ Oh, happy birthday to your son. You are such a wonderful mom that I'm sure you will teach your boys about this day of doing nice things for others. Thanks so much for your votes and share.


    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Billy ~ I have no doubt that you make a difference in the lives of others on a daily basis. Thank you for being an inspiration to so many.


    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for highlighting Make a Difference Day in this post and giving a good overview of how each person can make a difference!

    • KevinC9998 profile image

      KevinC9998 5 years ago

      Great idea- surprised I never heard of it! Voted up and awesome, Kevin

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Hi Sharyn, Make a Difference Day is my youngest son's 3rd Birthday. We have so many fun things planned that day. I will try my best to get something else in. Thanks for sharing. Never heard of the day before. Voted up and shared. Kelley

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Carol ~ wow, you are quick to comment :) Thank you so much for your kind words. I do like to think of "making a difference" on a daily basis. I appreciate your feedback and sharing too.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm trying to think of a reason why I wouldn't participate in this day...give me a second....hope, can't think of a single reason. Thanks for the great reminder; I'll be out doing my thing as I do each year.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Though I have never heard of this day it sounds wonderful. Maybe we should have it everyday. Kind of tongue in cheek. Though it would be nice to do something nice everyday. Really good hub with a wonderful up and sharing.