Tracey Lyons writes: We introduced our "Making a Difference" series a number of years ago, but to date there is no other group of stories that generates a response from viewers like these do. Many of these stories come from viewers themselves: Someone in their community is going above and beyond the call of duty to help others....a small not-for-profit has identified a need and fills it for those less fortunate...or a young person looks around and sees someone in trouble who adults have failed to see (or chose to ignore) and takes action.
This week we're delighted to bring you snapshots during this holiday season of people around the country making a real difference in the lives of their neighbors and other community members in need....sometimes even complete strangers. Most do what they do quietly, without acknowledgement or award.
Kristen Welker profiles Voices of Destiny, a Los Angeles-based church choir which is using $42,000 in competition prize money to build a community Youth Center in a gang-infested area of the city.
Kevin Tibbles has the story of a hospital holiday toy drive launched by a dying teenager who made a promise to his mom to keep getting toys to the other sick kids at the hospital where he waged his own long battle with cancer.
Natalie Morales captures the music and song of the Holiday Express, a group of volunteers who bring meals and music to VA hospitals, soup kitchens, long-term care facilities—anywhere folks are without family and in need of a bit of cheer in this season of giving.
Chris Jansing travels to Hop Bottom, PA, where an act of kindness many years ago inspired one family to give back by making quilts for the homeless. Thirty years and hundreds of volunteers later, their mission continues.
At Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD, while doctors work to heal the wounded warriors, the women's auxiliary works to make the holidays bright for the families of those soldiers, with holiday gifts and an extraordinary—almost militaristic—dedication to their "mission." Norah O'Donnell has their story.
Mike Taibbi took us to the Post Office building on Manhattan's 34th street, where Peter Fontana has run the 'Operation Santa' program for the last 15 years. He assembles a team of 'elves' every year who dig through mountains of letters that have been addressed to Santa at the North Pole. Volunteers pick a letter, shop for the item requested and it’s forwarded to the correct recipient.
Every year Christmas Decor decorates the homes of military families across the country. It means so much to them (both the families and the Christmas Decor crews that decorate the homes!). Janet Shamlian visits some of the families—and the volunteers—to bring us their story.
Ron Mott offers a look at Toys for Tots, the iconic program that the US Marines launched in 1947, when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children. The idea came from Bill's wife, Diane. Over the 62 years of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, Marines have distributed more than 400 million toys to more than 188 million needy children. This charitable endeavor has made U. S. Marines the unchallenged leader in looking after less fortunate children at Christmas.
It's believed Sir Winston Churchill said, "You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give." We're proud to bring you "Making a Difference" stories that shine a warm light this holiday season on Americans who reach out to others. Because they can.
Editor's Note: To watch these and other Making a Difference stories, go to the Making a Difference home page, where you can learn more about the organizations featured, suggest story ideas, and find out about people making a difference in your community.