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Make a Difference for Pleasanton Festival set later this month

Dozens of nonprofits to present volunteer opportunities

Offering residents a chance to learn more about dozens of local nonprofit and service organizations, the annual Make a Difference for Pleasanton Festival is set to take place Jan. 19 at the Pleasanton Public Library. (Photo by Michelle Suski)

'Tis the season for New Year's resolutions.

One way to improve your life is by discovering the joy of helping others, and Jan. 19 is the day in Pleasanton to explore the many ways you can volunteer.

That Saturday is when the Make a Difference for Pleasanton Festival will be held at the city library from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., in its community room. Dozens of nonprofit organizations will have tables set up with information on how you can "Get Connected & Stay Connected" with your community through volunteer service for adults, families and teenagers.

"This is a great way to learn of volunteer opportunities," said Ken Mano, vice president of Pleasanton's Community of Character Collaborative. "There will be many nonprofits and other groups that serve our community from newborns to young children to our senior population, and even animals."

Some volunteer opportunities that can be explored:

* Preparing and serving meals to neighbors in need.

* Driving elderly neighbors to medical appointments.

* Comforting dogs and cats awaiting their forever homes.

* Assisting a newcomer learning English.

* Helping visitors learn about local history.

* Refreshing public garden areas.

* Organizing Special Olympics sports events.

Visitors will be encouraged to sign the "50/50 Pledge," which states, "I pledge to spend at least 50 hours in community service, and to spend 50 more hours with my family in the next year."

Everyone can also sign the historic banner from the very first local Make a Difference Festivals, which were sponsored by the Pleasanton Unified School District in the 1990s.

"We used to try to tie in with the national Make A Difference Day, which is held in October, but here in Pleasanton that date has long been reserved for the Foothill High School Band Review, so we changed to the date closest to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which has become a global service day," explained W. Ron Sutton, founder of Make A Difference, Today & Always.

"Also, we felt that people should make a commitment to community service on more than one day per year," he added. "That is why we came up with the '50/50 Pledge' and the slogan, 'Get Connected, Stay Connected.'"

The festival helps fund the Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarships, which are awarded to graduating seniors from each of Pleasanton's three high schools through the Community of Character Collaborative.

"We are pleased to host this event," librarian Yu Tao said. "Because a growing number of organizations want to participate, the city's Department of Library and Recreation will move our information tables into the children's section of the library, just beyond the community room. We hope participants will come by to see the volunteer opportunities we offer."

The festival is free-of-charge, and everyone is welcome. Mayor Jerry Thorne will open the festival.

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