An area resident is making a difference by hosting programs that benefit organizations and individuals in need.
In preparation for USA Weekend's Make A Difference Day on Saturday, Oct. 27, Jamestown's Kimberly Ecklund is organizing members of the community to write a letter to thank an active duty military person in addition to collecting items for local veterans.
Ecklund will collect cards and letters from anyone willing to write one, and mail them to "A Million Thanks," a year-round campaign to show appreciation for U.S. Military men and women. She will also collect cold-weather items such as socks, hats, gloves and more for local veterans.
The Post-Journal and The Resource Center have teamed up for the fifth annual local Make A Difference Day event scheduled for Thursday from 6 to 10 a.m.
"Make A Difference Day is a national program that I've been involved with for at least 15 years," said Ecklund. "The biggest program I did was after 9/11. I organized a bus trip to New York City for a community-service project to help revive the city. We went to a park and planted daffodils that bloomed in the spring the year after 9/11. It was a solidarity effort that was across the city and the burroughs."
One of the ongoing projects that Ecklund has been involved with in the past is a school supply drive that she organized while she was president of the neighborhood watch commission. She has also had a tremendous amount of support for her projects come from Chautauqua Striders, which she is a mentor for, she said. For this project they have made cards and donated items.
"This year is a little different for me because I'm not doing it with a group," said Ecklund. "It's ironic that Make A Difference Day happens to fall on my birthday this year. So, I started with a plea to my friends and family that I wanted no gifts or cards this year. In turn, I asked instead to purchase one, write one or have someone in their family make one for current military members serving in the U.S. armed forces. And, I would incur the cost of mailing."
Ecklund also wanted to do something local, she said, so she tied into the project that people could instead donate a cold weather item that she would distribute to local veterans' groups.
"Times are tough for everybody," said Ecklund. "And, I know a lot of people don't have a lot of money. But, you can hand-write a note that I'll pay to mail. Make A Difference Day is considered a national day of doing good, so I'm trying to get everybody to do something to pay it forward. ... Even if it's something as simple as holding a door for somebody, telling someone thank you or buying someone a cup of coffee. It encourages people to band together to do something good in their community as a whole on that day."
Ecklund said those who wish to make a donation should call her at 664-0405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ecklund isn't the only individual or organization participating in Make A Difference Day. Another opportunity to help is by teaming up with The Post-Journal and The Resource Center for the fifth annual local Make A Difference Day event scheduled for Thursday from 6 to 10 a.m. The benefit will feature volunteers, some in Halloween costumes, selling a specially wrapped edition of The Post-Journal for $1 at various Jamestown locations. The proceeds from the event support TRC programs and services.
According to Julie McCarthy, The Post-Journal's Newspapers In Education promotions coordinator, the event started when Andy Gee, circulation director, approached her to ask if she knew about any programs or organizations that needed some extra support. McCarthy's son has a form of autism called Aspergers syndrome, so she immediately thought of TRC, she said.
Over the last five years of the program, more than $5,000 has been raised for TRC by selling copies of The Post-Journal that are wrapped with information on TRC's services and programs, their annual budget, a membership form, and stories and photos of individuals in the community. The volunteers will be located at all four of the Jamestown Tim Hortons locations, Phil and Cindy's on Second Street. For more information, contact McCarthy at 487-1111, ext. 291.
For more information on Make A Difference Day visit usaweekend.com/section/mdday.