An annual community service project is taking steps toward helping McAlester residents.

Dani Hovey, a member of the McAlester Make A Difference Day committee, said the group extended its efforts this year to complete community service projects safely and promote helping others.

"We want people to start getting into the idea of serving in the community," Hovey said.

National Make A Difference Day is normally held on the fourth Saturday in October, with millions nationwide joining to help make some kind of difference in the lives of others.

The national day of community service has been recognized for more than 20 years for volunteers to celebrate making a difference in their communities.

Make a Difference Day started in 1992 by USA WEEKEND magazine and Points of Light to sponsor a national day of community service.

Organizations, nonprofits, and volunteers offer their community service in more than 1,500 national events for Make A Difference Day.

In McAlester, a group of volunteers usually gathers at the Boys and Girls Club to organize who will help on a plethora of projects.

The event usually includes a gathering — but this year's event will be different.

"We decided that with COVID going on, it probably wasn't safe for us to gather — but we shouldn't all together abandon our applicants," Hovey said.

Applicants usually include several elderly McAlester residents who need help around their homes.

Projects the group previously completed includes fixing smoke alarms, installing carbon monoxide detectors, cleaning in the home, taking out trash.

However, this year's event will only include outdoor projects — cleaning gutters, mowing, raking, washing windows and more.

"There's not any inside projects," Hovey said.

Volunteers started working on projects in October and will do so through mid-November as another change due to the coronavirus.

Hovey said the group normally helps about 30 households and is working to complete projects for 24 applicants this year.

Projects include winterizing homes for the approaching cold weather, among other things that most of the applicants are dependent on help from others.

She said the group is working on multiple projects  — but they need help.

"Some of those applicants have more than one project," Hovey said. "They have raking and bagging, and then they'll have cleaning out gutters, or cleaning windows and then doing a repair job."

She said organizers hope to continue getting more volunteers to extend their efforts to the spring.

Anyone who wants to get involved can contact the group's Facebook page or email makadiffinmac2020beyond@gmail.com.

Contact Adrian  O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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