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Members of Cochranton High School Builders Club (from left) Erica Stininger, Sarah Parker, Shelby Procter and Kelli Loper help clean Mill Run as nearly 1000 volunteers worked around Crawford County last year for the 13th annual Make a Difference Day.

By Diane Patton

Special to the Meadville Tribune

Oct. 18 is Make A Difference Day in Crawford County and I asked myself the question posed in the headline because this year, for the first time, I’m on the staff at the United Way and on the Make A Difference Day committee! I say this with the excitement of one who hasn’t been exposed to the extraordinary amount of work involved in preparing this all-volunteer day of community service that involves more than 1,000 people doing about 120 projects.

We started planning in July with an organizational meeting that included a core group of dedicated volunteers from our office, Allegheny College, Meadville Medical Center, The Meadville Tribune and the AmeriCorps VISTA program. We reviewed our time line and task assignments. That’s when it really kicked in, with the task assignment sheet. There it is in black and white, what I’m supposed to do, and it looks relatively simple. But then we start talking numbers and it soon becomes evident that organizing 1,230 volunteers and 120 projects is no small task, especially considering that this all takes place within four weeks of phone lines being opened to take project calls.

The Make A Difference Day hotline — 724-5948 — officially opens today at 8 a.m. (If the line does not work on the first day because of expected technical difficulties, use the United Way’s number, 337-1251, or wait until Tuesday.) People from all over Crawford County can call and request or suggest a project for themselves or someone in need. Projects vary from yard clean-ups to building ramps and painting to visiting shut-ins or writing letters to our troops.

There is something for everyone who wants to volunteer. And there’s no limit to who can volunteer — adults, teens, young children, church groups, corporate work groups, sororities, fraternities, a group of friends, the list is endless.

Now I pose the question to you, “Are you up to the task?” Volunteer if you can. If you are a skilled worker and have experience in any phase of construction including plumbing, electrical work, masonry, carpentry or roof repairs, we need you! Many projects require a skilled supervisor to direct the volunteers as this is a vital role in the success of the day. Some projects will utilize semi-skilled workers, so if you can use small power tools, we need you! Some projects require patience and the ability to be kind, some require a strong back and willing attitude. All projects require you! Consider joining a group of friends from work and volunteering as a group.

If you are up to the task, the United Way sponsored Make A Difference Day may be right up your alley!

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