Size doesn’t matter.
If it comes from the heart, then its purity is born from within. And that’s what Saturday is all about. It is National Make a Difference Day, and residents in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown community are filling the hearts of others with plenty of joy.
Of all that has been said in praise, and in support, of Make a Difference Day since its launch two decades ago by USA WEEKEND and the Hands On Network (a business unit of the Points of Light Institute), perhaps the most telling came in last Sunday’s edition of the popular weekend magazine.
In an article written by USA Today reporter Laura Petrecca, who was interviewing “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King, the TV news personality — who doubles as editor-at-large for “O, the Oprah Magazine” — pointed to the very fabric of that which defines this national tribute to kindness.
“People often think that volunteering means writing a big check or doing something lofty, but it’s the small things that can make a difference in someone’s life,” King told the USA Today writer. “You can start by just saying ‘hello’ to people. Just show people that they matter as human beings.”
From a realist’s perspective, she also recognizes the obvious.
“Don’t misunderstand, sometimes writing a check is nice,” she pointed out. “I’m a big proponent of writing checks for causes you believe in. But it’s also important to have eye-to-eye and face-to-face contact because a conversation can help to change someone’s life.”
It’s as simple as it sounds.
Make a Difference Day is about reaching out, reaching in and reaching where few have reached before — into the lives of the lonely, the impoverished, the forgotten, those who live outside of established family and any who see life through the eyes of the weary.
Making a difference can lend an emotional touch.
Making a difference can be a physical presence.
Making a difference can provide a service.
Making a difference can offer a path.
Making a difference can create new directions.
Making a difference can restore lost faith.
There is no magic in making a difference. Anybody can do it, especially those with a heart for such endeavor.
Make a Difference Day is a personal favorite time of year for Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. He makes no apologies for voicing one man’s belief in helping his fellow man, while encouraging others to do the same.
Whether such outreach falls on Saturday, or any of the other 364 days of the year, he urges Cleveland residents to follow the lead of Nike and “... Just do it.”
“Whether it’s a Scout troop, civic club or organization, Sunday school class or individual, there is something that can be done to help someone else,” he told our newspaper. “Just look around.”
And when looking, sometimes it takes only a glance out the window, the back door or across the street. Past projects in Cleveland have included helping a senior citizen with lawn care, cleaning projects, installing wheelchair ramps, picking up litter or any number of physical or emotional types of assistance.
In keeping with the inspiration of Gayle King, the mayor touched local hearts when he told us, “Cleveland is a caring community whose people and various organizations literally work year-round to ‘make a difference.’ This one day a year just reinforces what we do all year long — find ways to make the lives of our family, friends and neighbors a little brighter.”
Make a Difference Day shines the light on all that is good. And although the radiance of its glow is not centered on the doers of its deeds, the mayor’s office would like to know about the projects in place. This can be done by calling his City Hall office at 423-476-8931.
The information is compiled into his annual “Make a Difference Day” report that is submitted to the national organization.
Make a Difference Day gets underway in only a few short hours. But that’s plenty of time to make a plan, then see it through.