On Saturday, Oct. 24, volunteers throughout Utah County are invited to join more than 1.3 million Americans in thousands of communities across the country during the eighth annual Make A Difference Day.

Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of doing good, is coordinated by the Points of Light Foundation and local Volunteer Centers. There are many opportunities to serve in your own community that can be accomplished on Make A Difference Day.The United Way Volunteer Center of Utah County invites all to join in the local efforts, whether big or small, to help make a difference in your community. The resources of the Volunteer Center are available for individuals or groups that need some ideas on how they can participate. Potential volunteers may obtain a list of specific volunteer opportunities, assistance over the phone or can do a search for specific opportunities on the United Way of Utah County Web site at (www.unitedwayuc.org.)

Individuals could gather a group of friends together and paint a transitional home, clean a park, school, church or nonprofit agency. Other ideas include giving blood, donating canned food or dry goods to Utah Valley's Regional Food Bank, visiting homebound senior citizens or helping a neighbor.

Whether the volunteer starts a new project or continues sharing their time at an ongoing volunteer opportunity and simply joins volunteers across the nation by serving on Oct. 24, their effort will not go unnoticed.

Sponsors of the eighth annual Make a Difference Day have allowed for rewarding the best projects. Awards of $1,000, $2,000 or $10,000 will be given to selected charities involved in the service projects. For more information on how to become eligible for the charitable awards and to obtain an entry form, contact the United Way Volunteer Center.

Other volunteer opportunities are available throughout Utah County. Some of these are listed below.

- Become a youth mentor. Provo School District's Mentor program has opportunities for individuals to help students with homework, to listen and to encourage them. Help become a role model by demonstrating punctuality, dependability and reliability. Volunteers will be matched one-to-one with a student and will meet with them once a week for 30 to 40 minutes between 7:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. during the school year. This is a great chance for college students, grandparents, company employees and concerned citizens to make a difference in a child's life today.

- Help kids after school. The 4-H Club runs several after-school activities for kids ages 6-12 and it needs volunteers to assist youth in each of the programs. Volunteers may help with camping, retreats and field trips such as those to the county fair. Volunteers must be at least 16 and can help at various times and days of the week.

- Assist with Spanish/English translation. Community Action Services needs help from individuals with bilingual capabilities. Volunteers that can serve on an on-call basis are needed to help translate during counseling classes on mortgage and budgeting topics. There are also opportunities to assist with translating some instructional materials used in energy efficiency classes and in some manuals. Other Spanish-speaking opportunities are also available through the United Way Volunteer Center.

For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities in Utah County, contact the United Way Volunteer Center at 374-8108, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by e-mail at [email protected], or visit the United Way of Utah County Web site at (www.unitedwayuc.org).