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HandsOn Network volunteers complete a community revitalization project.
HandsOn Network volunteers complete a community revitalization project. / HandsOn Network

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We want to see the collective impact of 3 million Make A Difference Day volunteers and inspire the rest of the world to follow your example. From Oct. 23 through Nov. 14, visit the Make A Difference Day Facebook Page and share your story, post your photos and show what a difference you made. Once you’ve shared your story, you become eligible to be one of three weekly winners of a $100 gift card, or a grand prize of $500.

Anne Bacorn power washes some playground equipment Saturday October 23, 2010 at Someplace Safe as part of Make A Difference Day activities. She is a member of Believers Christian Fellowship Church. Someplace Safe, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Trumbull County, Ohio that provides advocacy, education, supportive services, emergency 24-hour crisis intervention, and shelter for victims of domestic violence. / Marly Kosinski/Tribune Chronicle

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Across the nation, millions of Americans are clearing their calendars to make way for USA WEEKEND Magazine’s Make A Difference Day next Saturday.

Corporations, kids and communities are joining the action on the nation’s largest day of volunteering. You can, too. Go to makeadifferenceday.com to find a project near you. Or recruit family and friends into a project of your own. No project is too big or small. Whether it’s a sock drive, soup collection or raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, your actions will improve the life of someone else.

Some of the nationwide plans:

Cities:

Philadelphia, Detroit and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area are among the 50-plus cities with projects being organized by HandsOn Network affiliates. Greater Philadelphia Cares and local partners expect 10,000 volunteers to give 20,000 hours of time at schools, parks and recreation centers. In Detroit, 600 volunteers will fan out to schools and community centers. And in the nation’s capital, an expected 40,000 people will take part in efforts ranging from library makeovers to helping military families.

It’s nine years and counting in Warren, Ohio, where the Tribune Chronicle coordinates dozens of projects. This year, more than 500 people will take part in cleanups, collections and other efforts. Despite tough economic times, “on Make A Difference Day, people put their cares aside and come together to help the less fortunate,” says Sue Shafer, the newspaper’s community events coordinator.

Las Vegans are prepping for their 13th annual food drive for the Salvation Army. Volunteers will station themselves at grocery stores around the city to make personal appeals; businesses and non-profits are holding in-office collections. More than 40,000 pounds of food and personal hygiene items have been collected over the years.

Corporations:

Motorola Mobility Foundation, creator of the new Make A Difference Day app for Android phones (free download at the Android Market), will rally 5,000 people in 22 countries as part of its Global Week of Service Oct. 18-22. In the USA, employees will be working at food banks in 10 cities, while co-workers in Canada and Singapore will tend to local needs. “We wanted to build on our company’s long-standing history of volunteering and making a difference in the communities where our employees live and work,” says Eileen Sweeney, director of the foundation.

Financial services conglomerate Citi expects more than 45,000 employees in 90 countries to volunteer as part of its Global Community Day. Efforts include 1,200 in South Korea giving blood and greening parks; throughout California, 600 will help at food banks.

Each year, Prudential honors hundreds of young people with its Spirit of Community Awards for volunteer service. The company is encouraging applicants and 2011 winners to turn out Oct. 22. Among them: Rocco Fiorentino, 14, of Voorhees, N.J., who managed to have October declared Blindness Awareness Month in 36 states. Fiorentino will be helping people who, like himself, are visually impaired by repairing canes at a Philadelphia hospital.

Animal lovers:

In Milipitas, Calif., Judi Leonard, 56, and Jan Stevenson, 51, co-founders of Seniors4Seniors, are holding an adoption event at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. The duo have hosted a series of fundraisers, including a garage sale and wine tasting, to cover the costs of adoptions. They hope to place 20 older pets with loving seniors.

Kids:

Sisters Addie, 8, and Delaney Kenney, 9, of Guilford, Conn., who won a Make A Difference Day Award for their 2010 “almost sleepover,” are back in action. Their unique approach to the traditional pajama party, blending fun and service, is being replicated by girls and boys nationwide. At press time, 48 events in 33 states were in the works.

Non-profits:

Goodwill International has efforts across the country, including Good Guide youth mentors planting flowers in Pittsburgh, and a collaboration with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a donation drive in Omaha.

The Toy Industry Foundation, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Military Services, will give toys to 10,000 kids at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

College students:

More than 600 University of Delaware students will help out 14 non-profit agencies in the Newark community. In Lewiston, Idaho, students at Lewis-Clark State College will be painting soup bowls for a YWCA “SoupPort Our Shelter” event in February. The Trio Club of Centralia College in Washington plans to package donated coats, shoes, gloves and hats for needy families.

Celebs on Twitter:

These celebrities will tweet to millions of followers about the good they can do on Make A Difference Day.

Follow Darius Rucker at @dariusrucker and find out more about his favorite charity Pattison's Academy.

Keep up with Rosario Dawson at @rosariodawson for more information on a host of causes including Voto Latino.

Find Soleil Moon Frye at @moonfrye and learn about supporting J/P Hatian Relief Organization.

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