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It started as a joke and got out of control -Paul Newman

2012 Make a Difference Day Awards to Recognize 13 Life-Changing Volunteer Initiatives

Grassroots efforts to be honored for truly making a difference in local communities across America

McLean, VA – Tuesday, April 10, 2012 — Thirteen volunteer initiatives will be recognized with the 2012 Make A Difference Day Awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 19. Make A Difference Day, the nation's largest day of service, was created in 1992 by Gannett Co., Inc.'s USA WEEKEND Magazine along with partners, Newman's Own®, Inc. and Points of Light. Newman's Own will donate a total of $130,000, awarding ten volunteer initiatives $10,000 each and presenting three cities $10,000 each for their local projects.

The winners were chosen from thousands of grassroots volunteer efforts that took place on Oct. 22, 2011, Make A Difference Day. Millions of Americans served their communities and made positive change as a result of the volunteer action encouraged by the nationwide annual event.

"This event goes to the heart of Gannett's purpose to serve the greater good of our nation and the communities we serve. Every year, millions act upon our invitation to reach out to others in their community. It's inspiring to see how our audience responds and the good that comes out of this one day," said Dave Hunke, publisher of USA WEEKEND Magazine.

"Make A Difference Day was always important to Paul Newman. Newman's Own continues its dedication to the initiative to help underscore the need for volunteerism in our country, and as a small thank you to those who really help to make a difference in others' lives," said Tom Indoe, president and COO of Newman's Own, Inc.

"The 2012 Make A Difference Day honorees illustrate the power of people to use their time and talent to create change in their communities," said Michelle Nunn, CEO, Points of Light. "From an 8-year-old girl who helped find homes for abandoned animals to grandparents who are living examples of the strength of volunteerism, we continue to draw inspiration from these extraordinary individuals and celebrate the positive impact they have made in their communities."

One past national honoree will also be recognized at this year's ceremony with the All-Star Award of $10,000 from the Gannett Foundation, a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc. which supports nonprofits in communities that Gannett serves. The All-Star Award goes to a charity of the winner's choice.

Kevin Bacon, actor, musician and founder of SixDegrees.org, will be the event's keynote speaker and CBS News' Lara Logan will serve as master of ceremonies.

The 10 Make A Difference Day Award honorees for 2012 are:

  • Summer Search North Bay, Petaluma, Calif.
  • The United Way of Lake County, Waukegan, Ill.
  • The Marys & Marthas and the people of Clarion, Iowa
  • Girl Scouts of Madisonville Housing Authority Troop 333, Madisonville, Ky.
  • Mary Vail, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Victory Christian Church, Albany, N.Y.
  • Joyce and John Jackson, Delaware, Ohio
  • Neha Gupta, Yardley, Pa.
  • Eleanor Schoenbrun, El Paso, Texas
  • The Ellis Family, Rhinelander, Wis.
  • The three 2012 City Award honorees are:

  • The Jersey City Parks Coalition and Jersey City, N.J.
  • City of Salisbury, N.C.
  • Strong Neighborhoods Program, San Jose, Calif.
  • The All-Star Award goes to:

  • Lucas Metropolis, Boca Raton, Fla., and Durham, N.C.
  • Make A Difference Day 2012 will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. For more information on Make A Difference Day, please go to www.makeadifferenceday.com.

    About USA WEEKEND Magazine

    USA WEEKEND Magazine is a national weekly magazine with 22.6 million circulation and 50 million readers in print and online. It created Make A Difference Day in 1992. Awarded for its journalism and design, USA WEEKEND focuses on social issues, entertainment, health, food and travel. It has an expanded presence in the social media arena with active participation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. USA WEEKEND is a Gannett Co., Inc., publication. For more information, visit www.usaweekend.com.

    About Newman's Own, Inc.

    Newman's Own®, Inc., founded by Paul Newman in 1982, is a successful and growing food business. Newman's Own offers more than 100 varieties of great-tasting all-natural food and beverage products, including salad dressings, pasta sauces, salsa, thin & crispy frozen pizzas, frozen skillet meals, microwave popcorn and refrigerated lemonades. Based in Westport, Conn., the charitable mission of Newman's Own, Inc., was expressed by Paul in the company motto: "Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the Common Good." Newman's Own Foundation continues Paul Newman's commitment to donate all profits to charity. More than $330 million has been given to thousands of charities since 1982. Learn more about our products at www.newmansown.com and about our mission at www.newmansownfoundation.org.

    About Points of Light

    Points of Light is the leading volunteer organization with more than 20 years of history and a bipartisan presidential legacy. Our mission is to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world. We provide access to tools, resources and opportunities to help volunteers use their time, talent, voice and money to meet the needs of our communities. We are organized into three divisions: Programs, Civic Incubator and Action Networks, which include HandsOn Network, our network of 250 local volunteer centers; generationOn, our youth service movement; AmeriCorps Alums, our national service alumni network; and Points of Light Corporate Institute, which enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service. For more information, visit www.pointsoflight.org.

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    Heidi Zimmerman, USA WEEKEND
    (703) 854-5304 or hzimmerman@usatoday.com

    Kate Nolan Clemens, Newman's Own, Inc.
    (860) 657-0600 or kclemens@snet.net

    Anne O'Neill, Points of Light
    (404) 844-5360 or aoneill@pointsoflight.org