Connections Volunteer Center and Ohio Wesleyan University will be doing their part on “Make a Difference Day,” the largest single day of volunteering in the country.
This year’s event is from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 24, starting and ending at Camp Lazarus, 4422 Columbus Pike.
At 8 a.m., volunteers will have a light breakfast and pick up their assignment, which can be anywhere in the county, from Ostrander to Sunbury to Westerville.
From 9 a.m. to noon, they’ll work where they’re assigned — typically, it’s doing outdoor chores for senior citizens such as leaf-raking, window washing, garden cleanup, putting away patio furniture. Then they’ll return to Camp Lazarus for a hot dog lunch and to fill out some paperwork.
“We want to know if what the seniors requested was completed, or if additional work is needed, so we can send volunteers out another day,” said Suzanne Pingry, Connections program director.
Last year, 700 volunteers participated in Connections’ event, which helped its parent organization, HelpLine of Delaware & Morrow Counties, win a $10,000 grant from Newman’s Own and USA Today.
“When you come out to the breakfast and see the hundreds of volunteers gathered there to go out and help, it’s really empowering. You feel like the few hours you and your family give really makes a big difference,” Pingry said.
This year’s goal is 1,000 volunteers for Connections’ event.
“We would love anyone that has the morning free and wants to come out and make a difference, they are more than welcome to register on our website and join us,” Pingry said. “All ages can participate.”
Pre-registration is required. To register, visit connectionsvolunteercenter.org or call 740-363-5000.
Not only do families, groups and Boy Scout troops participate in the local Make a Difference Day, so do students from Ohio Wesleyan University.
“There will be 350 students who are all in a fraternity or sorority, as well as a few alumni, who will be donating their time and talents at different organizations throughout Delaware County,” said Dana D. Behum, director of Greek Life at OWU.
Among the places the students will volunteer is at Alum Creek State Park, Delaware County District Library, Family Promise, HelpLine, Lutheran Social Services’ Delaware County Food Pantry, Oak Grove Cemetery and the Strand Theater.
“A lot of what we are able to do en masse is help maintain their facilities — clean and organize, but we’re also expert leaf rakers and gutter cleaners,” Behum said.
Make a Difference Day is also the culmination of Greek Week at the university, and helps students with their service requirement.
“One of our fraternities helped do some painting at Family Promise last year,” Behum said. “They went back on their own to continue working with them throughout the year.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.