In 2004, single mom Patrice Poppleton of Paradise, Calif., found herself out of work and so drained from illness that she had trouble leaving her couch. Unable to make ends meet, she turned to the Paradise Ridge Family Resource Center to help get her children some little "extras" at Christmas. "It was a scary and exhausting time," she recalls.
Four years later, Poppleton, now on her feet and a student at Butte College in Oroville, Calif., was able to help the community that had helped her: On Make A Difference Day, she and 300 fellow students and staff from the college performed home repairs for 23 area organizations and residents in Butte and Glenn counties.
The volunteers painted, mended fences, repaired kitchens and provided home makeovers for the needy. Poppleton, who showed up to paint the Paradise home of Linda Day with her now-teenage kids in tow, realized that kindness had come full circle that day: "I recognized her name but didn't know from where," Poppleton says. "She's the woman who organizes the Christmas help for needy families. She was my kids' Santa four years ago."
A grateful Day says the volunteers saved her home. "I would never have asked for help," she says.
$10,000 Make A Difference Day Award from Newman's Own goes to the Butte Community College Foundation.