Making a Difference

What was so special about October 28, 2017? It was the 301st day of the year and Make a Difference Day, one of the largest annual single-days of service nationwide. This year, we challenged our Pioneers chapters across the country and in Canada to collect at least 301 non-perishable food items to donate to food banks in their community.

And what a difference the Pioneers made! An astounding 23,689 food items were collected and distributed to local food banks and shelters. And over 1,100 Pioneers donated their valuable time to the cause! Pioneers even took in over $1,500 in cash donations to share in their communities.

Taking part in Make a Difference Day was a memorable way to kickstart the anniversary celebration of the Pioneers organization, which was founded on November 2, 1911. The mission of the organization is to effect immediate, tangible change in local communities. That was certainly accomplished on the 301st day of 2017, as well as many other days throughout the year, through the determination and generosity of our volunteers

Here’s a snapshot of the results:

West Virginia:

In West Virginia, a small group of just 22 Pioneers donated about 1645 items of food to the Mountain Mission organization, which provides food, clothing, baby items, and even medications to those in need. Through donations, Mountain Mission was able to buy a rundown bar that had been scarred by multiple shootings (and even a murder) and transform it into a soup kitchen. Today, that soup kitchen feeds more than 200 people a day a hot lunch!

But the West Virginia chapter didn’t confine their efforts to just one day. Each month, the Wheeling Pioneers collect and donate almost 150 pounds of dog and cat food to the local humane society. And, in Parkersburg, every week, the volunteers prepare and donate 150 backpacks (filled with healthy food) to elementary students who do not have enough to eat on weekends. Finally, for the holidays this year, the Pioneers worked with Mountain Mission to provide Christmas dinner baskets for over 200 families, with turkeys and special treats for the kids included.

Pennsylvania:

In Pennsylvania, the Fort Pitt chapter (just 13 volunteers!) collected 467 items of food which was distributed to St. Maria Goretti Food Pantry in Bloomfield. The chapter also donated multiple bags and items of winter clothing and coats and raised $600 in cash for 30 families in need.

New Jersey:

In New Jersey, Pioneers demonstrated that it doesn’t take very many people to make a huge impact. Just four volunteers from Chapter #99 came together to donate 404 cans/boxes of food to the Somerset Food Pantry. And these 404 items made a tremendous difference to 1400 men, women and children that the food pantry serves.

New Outlook Chapters:

The New Outlook Pioneers had great success in meeting the 301 food challenge. Over 1650 food items were collected and distributed to the RISE organization, which ships food and supplies to third-world countries. Over 100 volunteers participated in the challenge, and also donated enough food for 75 prepared meals and $600 in cash to help the RISE organization.

Mississippi:

In Mississippi, a small group of seven Pioneers made a difference in just one day by collecting and delivering 577 items of food to the Stewpot Food Pantry in Jackson. The Stewpot organization serves approximately 18,000 meals to 600 families a month throughout several locations in downtown Jackson. And, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Stewpot helps over 400 families by providing the ingredients or items for holiday meals.