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Make a Difference Day turns solo service activities into group event

By , Columbian Features editor
7 Photos
The Vancouver Watersheds Alliance will again organize volunteers to plant trees in the Burnt Bridge Creek watershed on Make a Difference Day on Oct. 26.
The Vancouver Watersheds Alliance will again organize volunteers to plant trees in the Burnt Bridge Creek watershed on Make a Difference Day on Oct. 26. (Columbian files) Photo Gallery

You could pick up litter, plant trees or wipe down cemetery headstones any day. But there’s something powerful about fanning out with a bunch of other people all at the same time.

That’s the idea behind Make a Difference Day, founded in 1992 by newspaper magazine USA Weekend. Even though USA Weekend folded in 2014, Make a Difference Day has taken on a life of its own, with many still observing this day of service on the fourth Saturday of October.

“It’s a great way to bring the community together,” said Celina Stilphen, a program coordinator for the Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington, which is hosting a tree planting. “Last year was my first Make a Difference Day. It was great to see so many groups of people get together and enjoy a beautiful fall day.”

Watershed Alliance focuses on restoring Burnt Bridge Creek, which has long been vexed by pollution and invasive species. At the alliance’s 2018 event, 174 volunteers planted 4,000 trees and shrubs along the creek near Arnold Park. The plants filter pollutants from stormwater runoff, prevent erosion and keep water temperatures cool for fish, Stilphen said.

Clark Public Utilities is also hosting a tree planting event, while the city of Vancouver and Clark County are organizing volunteers to pick up litter.

Make a Difference Day Projects

What: The Butt Stops Here

When: 9 a.m. to noon. Oct. 26.

Where: Still taking volunteers at Marine Park; Vancouver Lake; Frenchman’s Bar; Leverich Park; Bagley Park; Orchards Park; David Douglas Park; LeRoy Haagen Memorial Park; Hazel Dell Park.

Information: www.cityofvancouver.us/madd

This project is a partnership between Clark County Public Works and Vancouver Parks and Recreation. Volunteers pick up cigarette butts and other litter at 12 different parks and public spaces. Gloves and bags will be provided.

What: Make A Difference Day With StreamTeam

When: 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Oct. 26.

Where: Battle Ground; register for address.

Information: Register online for details at www.clarkpublicutilities.com (scroll down to “Events”).

Clark Public Utilities’ StreamTeam will honor volunteers at this tree planting. Morning refreshments, lunch, plus all of the training and tools will be provided.

What: No Ivy Day at Tenny Creek Park

When: 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 26.

Where: 3200 N.E. 91st St., Vancouver.

Information: bit.ly/TennyIvy19

Join the VINE (Vancouver Ivy Near Elimination) Squad to help remove non-native English ivy. This is an all-age event, but children 13 and younger must attend with a parent or guardian. Teens 14 to 17 must return a signed minor consent form to attend without a parent or guardian (http://bit.ly/EventConsent).

What: Uptown Village Cleanup and Ryan Woods Grass Roots Community Award Ceremony

When: 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 26.

Where: 1919 Main St., Vancouver.

Information: www.cityofvancouver.us/MADD

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle will present an award named in memory of Ryan Woods, who built community bonds throughout Vancouver. Then volunteers will participate in a cleanup of Uptown Village or help spread bark dust at the Clark County Historical Museum.

What: Watershed Alliance of Southwest Washington Tree Planting

When: 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 26.

Where: Leverich Park, off 39th Street in Vancouver.

Information: thewatershedalliance.org

Volunteers will meet at the shelter at Leverich Park for registration and snacks. Orientation begins at 9 a.m. From there, participants will walk together to the planting site (a shuttle will also be available).

“We are cleaning up 12 parks on one day. That’s something we can only do when the community turns out in big numbers,” said Samantha Moullet, Vancouver’s volunteer programs assistant.

Volunteers for any of the Make a Difference Day events should bring a reusable water bottle and wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Organizers will provide necessary tools and work gloves.

All ages and abilities are welcome; no experience is required. Volunteers younger than 18 and their parents will need to fill out consent forms.

Organizers ask that you sign up online beforehand so they can be sure to have enough supplies and refreshments ready. Sign-ups for some events may close as the slots fill. Cemetery and beach cleanup events were already full at press time, so we don’t list them here. But there’s still plenty of other opportunities welcoming volunteers.