Make a Difference Day and Catholics

I used to wrestle with the concept of Make a Difference Day, reportedly the nation’s largest national day of community service. It’s generally the last Saturday of October — excluding Halloween — so millions of volunteers will take to their community Oct. 25.

A day was not enough, I thought. Besides, there are plenty of people who more regularly volunteer their time to make a difference in the lives of others — whether it’s through a simple smile, some labor intensive project or a donated item — who never get recognized.

So why recognize people who join this annual effort?

Well, because the annual effort can be the start of a lifetime effort.

“Service can be contagious. Once we work service into our schedules and see the benefits, it becomes a way of life. But for those who are in the beginning stages and looking for ways to serve, there are a number of things to consider,” Marge Fenelon wrote in the second of a two-part series on service in OSV Newsweekly.

The article said the most important thing is to approach service in humility and with an open heart. This makes volunteers available to God and his people, not interior wants and needs.

If you’re discerning ways to get involved in helping your neighbors in big and small ways — whether it’s Oct. 25 or a different day — here are some opportunities to consider:

  • For Our City Day in Chandler — Oct. 25. Projects include laying and raking grate and rock in public rights-of-way, cleaning yards, removing weeds, painting street numbers and installing smoke detectors.
    Info or register for certain task.
    A Catholic-run group whose sole mission is to simply “Make an Investment in Love and Kindness,” is hosting it.
  • Make a Difference Day in Mesa — Oct. 25. Exterior painting for a veteran widow.
    Info. A Catholic-run group whose sole mission is to simply “Make an Investment in Love and Kindness,” is hosting it.
    There’s an urgent volunteer need for this event. A group that was signed up has been reassigned.
  • Maggie’s Place — There’s an undated urgent need for weekly shifts at its thrift store. The volunteer page has other on-site opportunities within the homes. Check the needs list of the location nearest you if you’d like to donate items.
  • Family Promise of Arizona — Gabriel’s Angels recently stepped up to support the new after school program for families facing homelessness. They will bring a therapy dog to the program.
    The organization still needs human support for its after school program. The 90-minute commitment on designated days begins at 3:30 p.m. Info.