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Larimer County, Color. Nearly 2,800 volunteers took on almost 100 projects and donated 11,000 hours of service in the week leading up to and on Make A Difference Day.


Each year, 10 volunteer efforts are honored with the Make A Difference Day National Award and $10,000 donations to charity from Newman’s Own.

And every year after that, this honor roll of repeat volunteers can compete for the prestigious All-Star Award, an additional $10,000 donation from the Gannett Foundation and USA WEEKEND. This year, five great efforts are finalists for the All-Star Award. The winner is chosen by popular vote, online.

Voting opens Friday, March 1, at 8 a.m. E.T. and closes on Sunday, March 10, at 11:59 E.T. You must be 13 years of age or older to vote (kids, get your parents to vote) and you can vote only once every 24 hours. (Click here for official rules.) Results will be announced in the April 12-14 issue of USA WEEKEND.

Make a difference! Chose one of these finalists to receive the All-Star Award and $10,000 for charity:

• Larimer County, Colo. In this community, Make A Difference Day runs for an entire week. Nearly 2,800 volunteers took on almost 100 projects and donated 11,000 hours of service in the week leading up to and on Make A Difference Day. “It’s the premier day and week of service in our community,” says Adam Molzer of the United Way of Larimer County, which managed the massive effort. Click here to read more.

• The town of Westport, Conn. In their 17th year of participation, 1,500 residents from this town of 26,000 rallied to help struggling neighbors. A total of 19 projects — ranging from clearing nature trails to packing “comfort bags” for abused women — were carried out that day. Make A Difference Day “has become part of our culture,” says project chairwoman Barbara Pearson-Rac. “It’s what Westport does in October.” Click here to read more.

• Melbourne (Fla.) Central Catholic High and St. Joseph Catholic School, Palm Bay, Fla. In their 15th year of participation, students, parents, teachers and community members united for a 5K run and dinner to raise money for a beloved teacher and coach stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease. A total of $25,400 was raised to help with medical expenses and other costs. Click here to read more.

• Neha Gupta, Yardley, Pa. In her first year of participation, Neha, 16, won an award for creating a library at a needy Philadelphia school. Last fall, armed with $5,000 raised through community donations and garage sales and nine volunteers, Neha created a computer center at Philadelphia’s St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. The goal: connect bored, lonely kids to the outside world. She bought three tablets, three laptops and three big-screen monitors; and distributed hundreds of toys donated by the Disney Store. Click here to read more.

• Nicholas Cobb, Allen, Texas. For his fifth Make A Difference Day, Nicholas Cobb, 16, and a dozen VFW and National Honor Society volunteers swooped in with $800 worth of donated Home Depot supplies to spruce up the home of Claudette Allen, 68. They installed a screen door, chopped down trees, planted flowers and hauled off debris — making such a difference, Allen says, that “if I hadn’t been there, I don’t think I could have found my house.” If that wasn’t enough, Nicholas delivered 147 coats he had collected or purchased with donations to Allen Community Outreach later that day. Click here to read more.

USA WEEKEND’s Make A Difference Day is held annually in partnership with Points of Light and Newman’s Own on the fourth Saturday of October. The next Make A Difference Day is Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

Cast your vote for your favorite All-Star starting Friday, March 1 at 8 a.m. ET.

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Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is sponsored annually by USA WEEKEND Magazine and its 800 carrier newspapers. Make A Difference Day takes place on the 4th Saturday in October each year.