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

Musician Jon Bon Jovi and Today Show Co-hosts Matt Lauer & Savannah Guthrie Also Honored for their Commitment to Volunteerism

McLean, Va. (April 10, 2014) – Fourteen grassroots volunteer efforts from across the country were recognized today during the annual Make A Difference Day Awards Luncheon in Washington, D.C. Make A Difference Day is the nation’s largest day of service, bringing together millions of Americans to volunteer in their local neighborhoods and communities. It 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 Make A Difference Day honorees and three City Award winners with $10,000 each to continue their efforts.

This year’s honorees were selected from thousands of nationwide volunteer initiatives that took place October 26 during the 2013 Make A Difference Day. This year’s winners embraced the spirit of volunteerism with efforts ranging from kids creating bed kits for underprivileged kids to eye surgeons performing cataract surgery free of charge for needy agricultural workers. 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 addition to the fourteen award winners, Today Show co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie were honored at the event for their advocacy of Today’s Shine a Light campaign, promoting volunteerism across the U.S. Additionally, Jon Bon Jovi – the Grammy-award winning musician, philanthropist and founder of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation — was also recognized for his commitment to giving back to the community. NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hager served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“Gannett’s purpose is to serve the greater good of the communities we reach and the volunteer efforts that take place on Make A Difference Day inspire us to live that purpose. Every action, big or small, makes an impact and will hopefully serve as an inspiration for many others to join in years to come,” said Jim Lenahan, editor-in-chief of USA WEEKEND.

“Paul Newman was always very enthusiastic about Make A Difference Day and was thrilled to be part of such an initiative. Newman’s Own proudly continues the tradition to help recognize the good that is going on around all of us. The dedication of the people involved in these winning initiatives is incredibly inspiring,” said Tom Indoe, president and COO of Newman’s Own, Inc.

“Points of Light applauds the power that volunteers like these harness to make a real difference – in their communities, throughout the country and around the world,” said Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light. “We were founded almost 25 years ago by President George H. W. Bush, who has continually advanced the belief that ‘any definition of a successful life includes service to others.’ This year’s awardees clearly embody that definition of success.”

During the awards ceremony, past national honoree, Assistance League of Burbank, CA, was also recognized with the All-Star Award–a $10,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation, a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett Co., Inc. that supports nonprofits in communities which Gannett serves.

The ten 2013 Make A Difference Day Award honorees are:

    Bailey Snow, Granite Bay, CA
    Elijah Rodriguez, Leonardo, NJ
    Escambia Charter School, Cantonment, FL
    Jessica Carscadden, San Diego, CA
    Jessica Collins, Shelbyville, KY
    Nick Katsoris, Eastchester, NY
    Operation Access, Sonoma County, CA
    Peggy McGee, Green Valley, AZ
    Playworks DC, Washington, DC
    The University of Akron, Akron, OH

The three 2013 City Award honorees are:

    City of Cleveland, TN
    Volunteer Action Center – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
    Weirton Madonna and Weir High Interact Clubs, Weirton, WV

Make A Difference Day 2014 will be held on Saturday, Oct. 25. For more information, please go to

About USA WEEKEND Magazine
USA WEEKEND Magazine is a national weekly magazine, distributed through nearly 800 newspapers in the United States, reaching more than 47 million consumers. Awarded for its journalism and design, USA WEEKEND focuses on social issues, entertainment, health, food and travel. USA WEEKEND is a Gannett Co. Inc. (NYSE: GCI) publication. For more information, visit

About Newman’s Own, Inc.
Newman’s Own, Inc., founded by Paul Newman in 1982, offers more than 100 varieties of great tasting, high quality food and beverage products, including salad dressings, pasta sauces, salsa, frozen pizza, frozen skillet meals, microwave popcorn, and refrigerated lemonades. Newman’s Own Foundation continues Paul Newman’s commitment to donate all profits to charity. 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 HandsOn Network affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages 4 million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. We bring the power of volunteers where it’s needed most. For more information, go to


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

Kate Nolan Clemens, KDN Communications
(860) 657-0600 or

Anne O’Neill, Points of Light
(404) 844-5360 or