Take part in Make a Difference Day on October 23


“In a gentle way you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

“She has always made the best buns and cakes and has given the loudest applause at all youth sporting events.”

“He never missed a Sunday church service and was always ready to lend a hand.”

“He was a big supporter of young people involved in various ways, from music and sports to church activities.”

“He was a mental health advocate and served on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “

Over the years, we have lost community leaders who have passed away. Some of these people may not see themselves as leaders. However, they didn’t know much, they touched many lives in different ways. The quotes above were thoughts people had of those people who made a difference in the lives around them.

One of the things I learned from many who came before me is that you should leave a place (community, church, house, world, etc.) better than you were at your arrival. USA Weekend created National Make a Difference Day in 1992. This day is designed to encourage people to do something to make your community a better place. This year’s date for the national campaign is October 23. If you and your organization choose to do a community service project on this day, I encourage you to take photos and promote them on your social media sites. Make sure you have the hashtag #NationalMakeADifferenceDay and #MakeADifferenceDay. Let’s show them the great things we’re doing in Northeast South Dakota.

However, you don’t have to plan for one day a year to make a difference. You can start by doing small things like saying ‘hello’ to someone who might be feeling down and lonely, or taking cookies to a neighbor, or going to a local sporting event and congratulating the young people involved for a job well done. . You can also move on to things a little more important and donate your time to a local animal shelter, food banquet, or fundraiser. Or you could do something even bigger like organize a food drive or volunteer to serve on a local council or coach a youth sport.

I have the impression that in our part of the world, we are doing a good job of “strengthening” within our communities. It is important that we give young people the opportunity to ‘take it to the next level’ and make a difference as well.

I’ve seen groups like the National Honor Society promote awareness and fundraising for breast cancer research through a bake sale and the throwing of pink balloons at a football game. I have also seen local chapters of Students Against Destructive Decisions promoting campaigns on kindness towards others and bullying prevention within their schools and communities. Another opportunity for young people to get involved has been church youth groups where they do community clean-ups or a scavenger hunt to collect food to stock the shelves in the local pantry. Being involved in activities like this creates a sense of “ownership” or a sense of belonging to a community where people care about each other and compassion is a two-way street. By making young people active in the community, this will hopefully lead to other prosocial behaviors and help them stay away from risky behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

As we head into National Make a Difference Day on October 23, I leave you with this quote from Pablo: “Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Come on, reach out and help. This week, talk to someone who might need a helping hand.

Dodi Haug is the Prevention Coordinator at the Human Service Agency in Watertown.

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