Despite the cold and blustery weather, Trumbull County residents turned out Saturday to Make A Difference for the 11th straight year in the community.
Persevering through blasts of wind, cold weather and clouds, volunteers painted homes, picked up litter and tossed corn bags with one goal in mind: making a difference in someone's life.
Designated a national day of doing good, hundreds of volunteers worked more than 70 registered projects with services ranging geographically from Liberty to Bristol. Saturday marked the 26th anniversary nationally and the 11th locally, coordinated by the Tribune Chronicle. Groups and individuals donated nonperishable foods, warm coats and other miscellaneous items to local foodbanks, youth shelters and missions.
Warren Glass & Paint employees held a candy sale within the store to raise money for their 8th annual peanut butter drive. Though the candy sale was an internal affair, employees bought enough snacks to purchase 168 pounds of spread.
"We collect peanut butter because it's a treat, it's nutritional and beneficial because it's high in protein. It can also be used as a substitute," marketing manager Bernadette Kashien said.
She said about 25 employees participated in the sale and started munching on candy bars at the beginning of the month, hoping to raise enough money for just one jar.
Marissa Williams, 26, sweeps gravel from the bicycle path near Woodland Avenue S.E. in Warren as part of Make A Difference Day. Volunteers from the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership helped clean the path.
Tribune Chronicle / Margaret Thompson
"25 snack-size candy bars equaled one jar of peanut butter," Kashien said, adding that the sale eventually included other vending machine goodies as well. "After people in the community saw us listed in the paper, they donated jars."
This was the eighth year Warren Glass & Paint employees participated in Make A Difference Day, but the first time they donated to the Warren Family Missions.
"We donated to SCOPE last year. We decided to donate to someplace new. That way we can try and give out to everybody," Kashien said.
Though several projects included familiar faces and veteran volunteers, quite a few represented the new participants ready to take the torch.
Amanda Colbert's first-born son, Jayden, may only be five years old, but she said this isn't the first time he's heard the words "Make A Difference."
"This is his Make A Difference Day project. We try to teach him the importance of it," she said.
Amanda said her family has volunteered for Make A Difference Day before, but this year they decided to make their own group for the family.
"We wanted to do something new. And we wanted the project to focus on the kids," she said.
Jayden has helped his mother with Make A Difference projects the past few years, but this time a new potential participant has joined the family, her 16-month-old son, Cameron, who also witnessed the the act of giving.
Amanda said these projects are a great way for her children to learn about helping others, just like others have helped her.
Under the name Colbert's Care, the Colbert family, along with 12 other volunteers, jumped at the opportunity to collect over 300 children's books and two bags of toiletries.
"We posted the project on Facebook and our friends and family provided lots of donations," she said.
All the items collected for Colbert's Care was delivered to the Beatitude House in Warren and the Children's Rehabilitation Center.
This also was the first year Mecca Community Church were involved in a Make A Difference Day project, but member Wanda Tolley said they usually have a clothing ministry.
Tolley said the church opens its door twice a year to men, women and children as part of a free clothing giveaway, and arranged to offer one of the giveaways specifically for Make A Difference Day.
The church family collects year-round from local consignment stores and people of the community.
"We have it twice a year to this extent," Tolley said, referring to the room full of assorted apparel, shoes and baby items. "When we're done here, we keep what's needed for our monthly Second Harvest Foodbank giveaway."
Tolley said a small portion of the clothing was saved for the next food giveaway and the remaining collection was donated to Trinity Baptist and Cortland First Church of God.
The two-day giveaway for Make A Difference Day resulted in more than 100 families leaving with garbage bags full of clothing and other churches ready to make a difference on another day.
Whether it's giving once or twice a year, any individual who picked up a sewing needle, rake or paint brush, or group that donated items, monetary gifts or time made a difference in someone's life.