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

USA Today Honors 14 Inspiring Grassroots Volunteer Initiatives at the 2015 Make a Difference Day Awards


Tony Award winning actress and singer Idina Menzel honored for her commitment to philanthropy through A BroaderWay Foundation

McLean, VA – May 6, 2015 — Fourteen grassroots volunteer efforts from across the country were recognized today during the 2015 Make A Difference Day Awards Luncheon in Washington, DC. Make A Difference Day is the nation’s largest day of community service, bringing together millions of Americans to volunteer in their local neighborhoods and communities. It was created in 1992 by Gannett Co., Inc., along with partners, Newman’s Own®, Inc. and Points of Light.

Newman’s Own donated a total of $130,000, with each of the ten Make A Difference Day honorees and three City Award winners receiving $10,000 to go toward the organization of their choice. During the ceremony, a $10,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation was presented to a past national honoree for commitment to service. The Gannett Foundation is a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc., which supports nonprofits in communities that Gannett serves.

This year’s honorees were selected from thousands of nationwide volunteer initiatives that took place during the 2014 Make A Difference Day on October 25th, 2014. This year’s winners embraced the spirit of volunteerism with efforts ranging from building a wheelchair ramp in Arizona to cleaning up flood-ravaged homes in Michigan. These efforts have created a lasting and meaningful impact on their communities; the monetary awards will help ensure that the honorees are able to continue their projects in the years to come.

In addition to the award winners, Tony Award winning actress, singer, and philanthropist Idina Menzel was honored for her dedication to community service through her charity, A BroaderWay Foundation. In 2010, Menzel co-founded A BroaderWay to offer girls from urban communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through arts-centered programs with an emphasis on self-esteem, developing leadership qualities and striving for personal and social achievement. TODAY Show news anchor Natalie Morales served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“USA TODAY is so pleased to be able to honor these amazing volunteers from across the country today for the hard work and dedication they bring to their communities. Year after year, they serve as an inspiration to us all. We take great pride in their efforts and achievements – and hope that by sharing their stories we will inspire more actions in the months and years to come,” said Larry Kramer, president and publisher of USA TODAY.

“Volunteerism was always important to Paul Newman, and Newman’s Own is proud to continue its support of Make A Difference Day. By providing the awards each year, we not only recognize those who help make a difference in others’ lives, but we also hope to underscore the need for volunteerism in this country and inspire others to join in,” said David Best, president and COO of Newman’s Own, Inc.

“This year’s Make a Difference Day honorees embody the best of our nation’s spirit of service. We salute their extraordinary commitments to serve – their actions inspire us and remind us that all people have the power, opportunity, and tools to make a meaningful difference in our communities and beyond,” said Tracy Hoover, CEO of Points of Light.

The ten 2014 Make A Difference Day Award honorees are:

  • John Griswold, All Hands Volunteers- Warren, MI
  • Issac McFarland, Hearts for the Homeless- Shreveport, LA
  • Karen Kitchel, Birthday Bag Blitz- Eagan, MN
  • Makenna Scwab, Kids Helping Kids Toy Drive- Wenatchee, WA
  • Terry Esau, Free Bikes 4 Kidz- Minneapolis, MN
  • Joshua Williams, Joshua’s Heart-Stomping Out Hunger- Miami, FL
  • Dave Bradley, Meals from the Heartland – Des Moines, IA
  • The Salvation Army’s Project Bundle Up- Rochester, NY
  • The Real Estate Council of Austin, Christmas in October at SafePlace- Austin, TX
  • Daniel Soupiset, Canine and Kitty Coupons- San Angelo, TX

The three 2014 City Award honorees are:

  • Delaware County, OH
  • University City, MO
  • Town of Fountain Hills, AZ

The All-Star Award goes to:

  • Shaquawana Wester, Cookeville, TN

Make A Difference Day 2015 will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24. For more information and to read more about this year’s honorees, please go to

USA TODAY is a multi-platform news and information media company. Founded in 1982, USA TODAY’s mission is to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation. Through its unique visual storytelling, USA TODAY delivers high-quality and engaging content across print, digital, social, and video platforms. An innovator of news and information, USA TODAY reflects the pulse of the nation and serves as the host of the American conversation – today, tomorrow, and for decades to follow. USA TODAY, the nation’s number one newspaper in print circulation with an average of nearly 1.8 million daily, and, an award-winning newspaper website launched in 1995, reach a combined 6.6 million readers daily. USA TODAY is a leader in mobile applications with more than 16 million downloads on mobile devices. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).

About Newman’s Own, Inc.
Newman’s Own, Inc., founded by Paul Newman in 1982, offers more than 200 varieties of great tasting food and beverage products including salad dressings, pasta sauces, coffee, salsa, cookies, candy, snacks, frozen pizza, frozen skillet meals, and refrigerated lemonades, as well as a line of premium pet food products. Newman’s Own Foundation continues Paul Newman’s commitment to donate all of its royalties and after tax profits from the sale of Newman’s Own products for charitable purposes. More than $400 million has been given to thousands of charities since 1982. Learn more at and

About Points of Light

Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of non-profits and corporations, Points of Light engages four million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of people to bear where it’s needed most. For more information, go to

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Amber Allman, Gannett Co., Inc.
(703) 854-5358 or

Nicole Bender, Coyne PR (for Newman’s Own, Inc.)
(212) 938-0166 or

Jennifer Geckler, Points of Light
(404) 979-2941 or