Make a Difference Day, held on the fourth Saturday of October every year, has become the most well-known and celebrated national day focused on service in the United States, with millions of people improving the lives of others through community-support projects.

For Make a Difference Day held on October 22 this year, Northwest Iowa RSVP volunteers “booked” Kindergarten through 4th-grade students in Emmet and Palo Alto counties by handing out more than 1,300 free books to celebrate.

“It is so fitting that on a day where we want to celebrate our volunteers for going above and beyond to make a difference in our communities, they are turning around and giving the gift of their time, as well as promoting a love of reading to our local youth,” remarked Megan Spurgin, RSVP Coordinator for Emmet County.

A total of 1,125 students attending Emmetsburg Catholic School, West Elementary School, Ruthven-Ayrshire Elementary School, Graettinger-Terril Elementary School, West Bend-Mallard Elementary School, Demoney Elementary School, and North Union – Swea City Elementary School received books on school days during the weeks surrounding Make a Difference Day.

It is truly heartwarming to see the enthusiasm, excitement, and smiles shared by RSVP volunteers and children as books have been delivered for Make a Difference Day! The actions of our volunteers demonstrate to students just how much fun reading can be. Our volunteers are also teaching by example that by working together, we all have something positive we can give each other,” shared Kathy Pudenz, RSVP Coordinator for Palo Alto County.

In addition to giving the children books, teachers were also given boxes of books to help provide access to more reading material choices in the classroom.

RSVP purchased the books for each of the students through the support of a grant. Once the books arrived, RSVP staff and volunteers sorted and delivered the books, encouraging students to love reading, develop strong literacy skills, and support educational success.

Northwest Iowa RSVP volunteers have been making a difference every day in the communities of Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Kossuth, and Palo Alto counties since 1977 with sponsorship from Iowa Lakes Community College and AmeriCorps.

AmeriCorps, the federal agency that is the parent organization for the RSVP program, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges through national service and volunteering. AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Senior volunteers serve with organizations dedicated to improving communities and promoting service to others as a cornerstone of American culture. Learn more at

Northwest Iowa RSVP invites people 55 and over to apply their life experience to meeting community needs as volunteers in various programs. Some of these programs focus on supporting area schools for education-based success, including Pen Pals, Reading Buddies, and Art Buddies. Additionally, some RSVP volunteers tutor and mentor individual students.

If you are age 55 or above and wish to volunteer through RSVP, contact one of the RSVP Coordinators listed below: