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Thursday, April 19th, Bacon helps present the 2012 Make A Difference Day Awards. For more information, <a href=http://makeadifferenceday.com/blog/2012/04/12/21st-make-a-difference-day-awards-announced/>click here</a>.
Thursday, April 19th, Bacon helps present the 2012 Make A Difference Day Awards. For more information, click here. / H. Darr Beiser for USA WEEKEND

Hall of Fame Photo Gallery

Some big names have supported Make A Difference Day through the years, including Justin Timberlake, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Hillary Clinton and Shaquille O'Neal. Take a look at our hall of fame photo gallery from years past. Click the related link below.

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For years, Kevin Bacon looked for "connectivity," a way to think beyond himself and the world of Hollywood. While he had attended his share of what he calls "rubber chicken dinners" and made the occasional public service announcement, the actor and musician yearned to focus his efforts.

Then, one day about six years ago, inspiration struck in the unlikeliest of places: his refrigerator, where he saw Paul Newman’s face smiling back at him from a jar of spaghetti sauce.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that was such a great idea,’” says Bacon, 53, of how Newman used his celebrity to fuel a food empire, Newman’s Own, which donates all profits to charity. “I thought, ‘Is there anything that’s associated with me that feels like I could do something with it?’”

Of course, one thing well-associated with Bacon is “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the pop-culture game in which he is the center of the entertainment universe and players try to link him to other actors in the fewest steps.

So was born SixDegrees.org, an online philanthropic clearinghouse that combines the power of social networking with the power of social good. Six Degrees offers “Good Cards,” gift cards that recipients can redeem as donations to the charity of their choice.

“We’re more interested in a million people with $10 than 10 people with $1 million,” Bacon says of his site, which has raised nearly $4 million. “That shows you can exponentially spread the idea of doing good and giving back.”

An idea not unlike Make A Difference Day, Bacon notes: “People working for and with each other. That’s just so great to watch.”

Bacon will give the keynote address at Thursday’s luncheon honoring new Make A Difference Day Award winners, including teen Neha Gupta, shown with Bacon on the cover and at left. For Make A Difference Day, Gupta created a library for underprivileged kids in Bacon’s hometown, Philadelphia.

“I feel like really I’ve done so little, so to be in the presence of people who have worked so hard — I’m humbled,” Bacon says. “Read one of these stories and you are going to be OK to get through the day.”

Read more about this year's honorees:

Petaluma, CA - Future leaders give back

Madisonville, KY - Girl Scouts bridge between generations

Albany, NY - Church provides the tools to build neighborhood pride

Waukegan, IL - Disabled students enjoy and equal change to play

Yardley, PA - Teens create a library

Las Vegas, NV - Woman’s food-drive tradition lets Salvation Army feed thousands

Delaware, OH - Grandparents pass on their passion to give

Clarion, IA - Small town learns that little actions make big change

Rhinelander, WI - Family turns tragedy into triumph by giving back

El Paso, TX - Third-grader helps homeless dogs and cats find homes

City Awards: San Jose, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Salisbury, NC

All-Star: Boca Raton, FL/Durham, NC - Lucas Metropulos

Cover and cover story photographs of Kevin Bacon and Neha Gupta by H. Darr Beiser for USA WEEKEND. Hair by Kelvin Trahan, The Milton Agency; makeup by Beate Petruccelli; wardrobe styling by Tamara Connor. Clothing: Cover, Bacon: Shirt by Hugo Boss, jeans by J Brand from Barneys CO-OP Atlanta. Neha: Shirt by Patterson J. Kincaid from Neiman Marcus, jeans by Citizens of Humanity from Bloomingdale’s; bracelet by Gap. Inside, Kevin: Shirt by Rogue from Neiman Marcus, jeans by J Brand from Barneys CO-OP Atlanta. Neha: Shirt by Rubbish from Nordstrom, jeans by Free People from Bloomingdale’s.

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