Helping Hands: Volunteers, projects needed for Make a Difference Day |

Helping Hands: Volunteers, projects needed for Make a Difference Day

Kathryn Turner
summit daily news

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

On Oct. 13, hundreds of Summit County citizens will convene to give back to the community they love.

The day marks the local celebration of Make a Difference Day, a national event where volunteers lend their time to benefit organizations like nonprofits, schools and churches.

“It’s everything from trail work to manual labor – pretty much anything the agencies need,” said Jordan Schultz, event coordinator and program coordinator for Drug Free Community Colorado.

This year will mark the 14th annual installment of the event in Summit County, which previously, was run by the now-defunct Summit Prevention Alliance. This year’s day is hosted by Summit County Youth and Family Services, since the organization picked up two of the alliance’s grants after it disbanded. But, Make a Difference has always been popular – members of its original organizing committee are still fully behind it – so it’s very possible it would still be going on even if Youth and Family wasn’t hosting it.

“This is going to make it, even if there’s not any grant money,” said Robin Albert, Youth and Family manager.

This year’s event has plenty of community sponsors, who were willing to back it no matter who hosted it, Albert said.

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But, because SPA is gone, some people weren’t sure the event was still going to happen, Albert said. Youth and Family is hoping to get the word out to attract plenty of volunteers and local organizations to sign up before the event.

In past years, the day has drawn between 20 and 30 organizations, and between 400 and 500 volunteers.

The event has always been positive for local organization Swan Center Outreach, which has actually gained long-term volunteers from that one day of service. This year, the nonprofit will be hosting helpers at its Silverthorne thrift store, Horse Cents, where it needs help organizing.

“It’s made a huge difference for our organization,” Swan Center co-founder John Longhill said of the event. “It’s always been a very high energy and positive day, very worthwhile.”

On Oct. 13, volunteers meet up at 8 a.m. the Summit Stage Bus Barn in Frisco, where they receive a breakfast before heading out to their activities, like building and maintaining trails, painting or cleaning. They “work” for about four hours and return for a free lunch and music.

Besides being an opportunity to give back to a county where “we’re so lucky” to live, Albert said, the day is about connecting people to the community.

“It’s a really powerful experience to see everybody out there doing work for the community,” Schultz said.