Recruiting for Make A Difference Day


(Posted Aug. 13, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Marci Darlington is going big, as in countywide, in her effort to help others.

The West Jefferson resident is a regular participant in Make A Difference Day, a national program sponsored by USA Today, Points of Light, and the Paul Newman Foundation. Participants come up with their own ways to better others’ lives. Activities take place the fourth Saturday in October.

“This is my 10th year and I decided I wanted to do something grand,” Darlington said.

In the past, Darlington’s efforts focused primarily on West Jefferson. Initially, she organized a festival to raise money for the Arbors West Christmas fund to benefit nursing home clients. Later, she added West Jefferson’s Good Samaritan Food Pantry and Mount Gilead’s Flying Horse Farms to the beneficiaries list. Two years ago, she raised over $10,000 for the food pantry.

This year, she is taking a whole new approach. The first prong is to increase the public’s awareness of local services designed to help people in need. The second is to encourage other individuals and groups to create their own ways to make a difference.

To accomplish these goals, Darlington is setting up hubs in West Jefferson, London, Mount Sterling and Plain City where non-profit and civic groups can set up information displays.

“It’s a way for people to find out about the resources in the county,” Darlington said.

The hubs also will serve as launch spots for volunteers to go out into neighborhoods to complete projects that help local residents.

“It can be as simple as raking your elderly neighbor’s leaves or organizing a coat drive. There is no act of kindness too small,” Darlington said. “It’s all about one person going out in the community and doing something nice for someone.”

Darlington is recruiting groups to set up at the hubs. She also is asking for the public to submit ideas for community service projects. The plan is to document all of the projects that are completed, including information about the number of volunteers involved and each project’s impact.

Darlington will submit the documentation to Make A Difference organizers for a chance to win a $10,000 grant. She was in the running several years ago, finishing in the top 100 of 1,000 submissions from across the country. In 2009, her project finished 10th out of 1,000 entries in Ohio.

Should her submission win this year, Darlington said the money will support Bridges Over Barriers, a non-profit organization she and her family are founding to bridge the gap between people in need and available assistance. The non-profit was inspired by Bob Wells, Darlington’s brother, who died unexpectedly in September 2014. Wells was a Madison-Plains High School graduate.

This year’s Make A Difference Day is Oct. 24. For details about the national program, go to

To get involved with Darlington’s initiatives, call (740) 490-8317, send email to, or visit “Bridges Over Barriers” on Facebook.


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