Make a Difference Day transforms into month-long affair


The Community Service Learning Center has gotten creative in finding ways for Grand Valley students to give back to their community. (Courtesy / CSLC)

Autumn Pitchure, Staff Reporter

In past years, students could gain the satisfaction of coming together and helping the community by participating in Make a Difference Day, a national day of service and annual tradition held at Grand Valley State University.

This year, there is a twist. With adjusting to changes COVID-19 has brought about, the Community Service Learning Center decided to take Make a Difference Day and expand it into the month of October, making it into a broader opportunity to serve in person and virtually as Make a Difference Month.

“Grand Valley has participated in Make a Difference Day for the past 15 years,” said Giavonna Ward, Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement. “We hope that by making this into a month-long event we are able to offer students a variety of opportunities to get engaged with their community.”

Make a Difference Month will consist of some changes. The CSLC is working on finding new service opportunities for their students, working with community partners to find service projects that students can take part in.

“This year is very different,” Melissa Baker-Boosamra, Associate Director of Student Life said. “We have had to regroup and get creative.”

Due to COVID-19, the Ottawa County Health Order and Executive Order, student organizations are not traveling. When the Ottawa County Order is lifted, students are welcomed to serve at community partner sites.

“We have decided with student safety and public safety to do a couple of things new,” Baker-Boosamra said. “Although we aren’t able to provide transportation, we are able to provide students with some ideas about how to do remote and or virtual service.”

Some examples of these remote or virtual service opportunities include becoming a pen pal with a senior citizen, or raising money for a non profit organization by doing a walkathon. There are a number of community partner opportunities, virtual service and remote service opportunities students can find to take part in by finding “Make a Difference Day” under the community engagement tab at

Ward also mentioned there will be a social media campaign where students can feel they are making an impact by tagging @gv_cslc and use the hashtag #GVSUMakesADifference.

“This is nice because when students tag themselves on social media they can see it’s not just them out there, there are other Lakers giving back as well,” Baker-Boosamra said.

During Make a Difference Month, there will be the opportunity for students to do “Drop-in service.”

Drop-in Service will be held once a week. A tent will be set up at various locations across campus where students can drop in and do service projects such as using recycled t-shirts to make dog toys for the Humane Society or coloring lunch bags for Kids Food Basket.

“Drop-in Service gives students the chance to do the service here on campus, but the things they make or do is then shared with community partners,” Baker-Boosamra said. “Service doesn’t just mean going to the homeless shelter or the soup kitchen and giving out food. There are so many other ways you can give back to your community.”

Although COVID-19 has created challenges, the GVSU community has not failed at coming together during these hard times.

“Our goal is to help students in the midst of this really challenging time to remind them that they are a part of something bigger than themselves,” Baker-Boosamra said.