McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 29, 2012

Make a Difference Day is huge success

By Rachel Petersen
Staff Writer

McALESTER — The Make a Difference Day events that took place in McAlester on Saturday were a huge success, organizers said.

Volunteers helped people do some clean-up and minor repairs in homes around McAlester.

Leanna Amos, a Make a Difference Day committee member, said the day started off at 7:30 a.m., when volunteers arrived at the Boys & Girls Club near Chadick Park in McAlester. There was an introduction, Amos said, and volunteers were told what would was expected for the clean-up day.

At around 8 a.m., Amos said that McAlester Fire Lt. Danny Bennett gave the volunteers a demonstration on how to safely install smoke detectors. He also talked about the proper use of fire extinguishers, Amos said.

Event organizer, Maureen Harrison, said that she was thrilled with the amount of people that showed up to volunteer. “We had over 70 volunteers today,” Harrison said.

Make a Difference Day committee member Dani Hovey said that once volunteers attended Bennett’s presentation, they began selecting their projects. The Make a Difference Day projects ranged from safety and winterizing, to painting, to general and outdoor maintenance. The volunteers chose their projects, Hovey said, and then they got their materials and dispersed all around McAlester and did the minor home repairs for people in need.

“This is the 11th year that McAlester has participated in this national day of doing good,” Harrison said. “The reason we are doing this is to help those in need, including senior citizens, disabled members of the community and single, working women. Often times, these individuals don’t have anyone to help them, or they are on a fixed income and need assistance in completing some necessary minor home repair work.”

As part of the Make a Difference Day activities, Ladell Emmons, Oklahoma State University extension service educator, held a couple presentations. Amos said the first presentation was on empowering older adults to shop, cook and eat with assistive technology. The second presentation, Amos said, was about emergency preparedness.

Alan Barreca, with Rebuilding Together — Kiamichi Country, had a question and answer booth set up. He helped people learn more about acquiring free major home repair assistance from his organization, Harrison said.

And Smart-Start, Kiamichi Country and Safe Kids, Oklahoma, collaborated to sponsor a car seat give-away for those in need.

Volunteer Melanie Sevall volunteered Saturday and said this is her second year involved in the Make a Difference Day events. “I think its a great organization that helps a lot of needy people,” she said. “I plan to return again next year.”

Make a Difference Day committee member Valerie Rogers said the volunteers visited over 30 homes to complete projects.

Another committee member, Damien Miller, said he has been involved in Make a Difference Day in McAlester since its inception. “This is my 11th year,” Miller said, “and this was the best turnout so far.”

Contact Rachel Petersen at