Gracia Martore, Gannett CEO
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - Entertainer Kevin Bacon, CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes and Gannett CEO Gracia Martore were on hand as USA WEEKEND, Newman's Own and Points of Light presented the 2012 Make A Difference Day Awards Thursday.
"I'm like very happy because I didn't really think this is going to happen but like when it did, it was just a joy!" said Jalena Slaton, 12, of Madisonville, Kentucky.
Slaton got the award along with her Girl Scouts Troop 333 members. They made a difference by taking $100 from their fund to make greeting cards for lonely seniors.
Thirteen volunteer initiatives were recognized at the 2012 Make A Difference Day Awards ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
"The actions that took place that day, I believe really demonstrate the very best of the American spirit," said Gracia Martore, President and CEO of Gannett.
Another winner went to Mary Vail who organizes an annual super market food drive for the Salvation Army in Las Vegas.
Every winner gets presented with a $10,000 check from Newman's Own. The money will go to a charity of the winner's choice.
"Being presented with a 10,000 dollar donation from Newman's Own is just really great. I mean the food bank can definitely use that," said Vail.
Make A Difference Day was started by USA WEEKEND in 1992, a leap year. Readers of the magazine were asked to spend the extra day of the year serving others.
"Really just shows that when you give people a goal .. .a realy concrete goal...help the community for one day..that can really galvanize a lot fo people. And that's the spirit that can live on through the rest of the year," says Nancy Cordes, CBS Congressional Correspondent and the master of ceremonies.
The event featured a keynote speech from Kevin Bacon, actor, musician and founder of SixDegrees.org, a non-profit that connects people to a multitude of charitable causes.
"All of you today...you have all become celebrities for your causes," said Bacon.
Bacon was impressed by the range of projects by Make A Difference Day winners.
"They were really interesting and cool ideas, " he said. "One young woman started a library for kids who had no books. Another man started a tool library, for people to borrow tools to do work, all in service of communities."
The selected winners were chosen from the millions of Americans who served their communities and made positive changes as a result of the volunteer action on Make A Difference Day 2011.
Founded by USA WEEKEND and partners Newman's Own, Inc. and Points of Light, Make A Difference Day is the nation's largest day of service. Each year, Newman's Own supports Make A Difference Day by providing $10,000 awards to each of the 10 Make A Difference Day honorees and since 2011 has recognized three cities annually as well.
For more information visit: www.makeadifferenceday.com