Students, faculty set to give back on national Make a Difference Day


The University of Akron Communications and Marketing Department

Volunteers working at the Akron-Canton Food Bank during 2013 Make a Difference Day.

By William Singer, News Editor

Make a Difference Day, a national event sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine, will bring volunteers together around the country in an effort to improve neighborhoods.

This Saturday, Oct. 25, a group of faculty and students will take part in a national day of giving back.

Make a Difference Day began ten years ago when a committee of students, staff, faculty and community members organized a day of service that eventually became part of the national event put on by USA Weekend Magazine.

It also features more than 40 non-profit partner organizations including Keep Akron Beautiful, the Salvation Army, Let’s Grow Akron, Inc. and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.

According to Alison Doehring, assistant director of student life and project coordinator, there are a wide variety of projects that have been arranged by the non-profit organizations for volunteers to take part in.

“Everything from outdoor clean-ups to painting, organizing, landscaping, cleaning or working personally with clients. Each agency supplies the project and materials – we supply the volunteers to assist!” said Doehring.

In 2013, UA was one of ten universities recognized by USA Weekend magazine, Points of Light Foundation and Newman’s Own for its work in Make a Difference Day.

“It’s great to see groups of friends and peers come together to serve alongside one another and truly make a difference,” Doehring said. Community service can be an enriching experience for the both volunteers of this event and the communities, according to Doehring.

There are several local businesses including the Akron YMCA, Summa Health Systems, Oriana House and ARAMARK that support UA’s branch of Make A Difference Day.

“There are so many great examples of how this day impacts the community,” said Doehring. “I think for me, the [best part] is hearing the student responses when they meet a new non-profit partner and hear the services or support offered to the community.

More than 900 UA volunteers from 42 different student organizations will volunteer on this day according to a press release from UA. More than 70 in-house volunteers have helped organize the event already.

Over the past ten years, UA has provided volunteer opportunities for more than 5,900 people, adding up to over 21,400 hours of community service to Summit County. This amounts to more than $170,000 of volunteer work, according to the UA press release.

Volunteers will be working two shifts on Saturday in their assigned areas: one from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a second from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Check-in for the first shift is at 7:45 a.m., and 10:45 a.m. for the second shift.

All participants for the event will receive a light breakfast, t-shirt and transportation.