Photo credit Jillian Nelson.
The Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation united over 50,000 children across the country on National Make A Difference Day, October 24, 2015, as part of its annual Make A Difference With Loukoumi Project. Loukoumi (the lamb character from the Loukoumi children’s book series) and author Nick Katsoris also embarked on a school bus filled with children and supporters that day, uniting many of the participating organizations by visiting their good deed events. Make A Difference with Loukoumi is part of National Make A Difference Day sponsored annually by USA Weekend Magazine. The day unites over 3 million Americans each year. The Make A Difference With Loukoumi project is the recipient of a 2014 USA Weekend National Make A Difference Award
Since 2009, Loukoumi has rallied thousands of children to make a difference in their own special way on one day. The project started with the release of the book, Loukoumi’s Good Deeds (Narrated on CD by Jennifer Aniston), which teaches children the importance of doing good deeds, and that by doing so you can make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
“It was really special to narrate “Loukoumi’s Good Deeds” on CD,” says Jennifer Aniston, “not only because of how inspirational it is for kids, but because it was an opportunity to work with my Dad. I also loved that it was supporting a personal cause of mine, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am thrilled that the Loukoumi books are continuing to make a difference in the lives of children through this wonderful Make A Difference Day program.”
The Loukoumi Foundation also united many organizations under its Make A Difference umbrella, who partook in various projects throughout the country including: The National Philoptochos Society, Kiwanis, Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, Matthew McConaughey’s Just Keep Livin’ Foundation, Chefs for Humanity, The Joey Foundation, EIMAI Center for Emerging Young Leaders, The Westchester Children’s Museum, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, The Houston Food Bank, St. Basil’s Academy, Fordham University’s Up ‘til Dawn Club, and schools nationwide including The Anne Hutchinson School in Eastchester, The Chapel School in Bronxville, The William Spyropoulos School in Flushing and many others.
According to Loukoumi Foundation President Nick Katsoris, “The beauty of this project is that it encourages children to make a difference in their own special way, through projects that they enjoy, benefitting charities and organizations that mean something to them.”
For example, Grace LaFountain, who loves to cook, held a bake sale at the Utica Zoo and donates the money raised to Chefs for Humanity. Constantine Katsoris who loves animals sells rainbow loom bracelets and donates the proceeds to the New Rochelle Humane Society. Houston Texas Boy Scout Eli Smith and his family organized over 60 children to help out at the Houston Food Bank. The Joey Foundation participated in the Massapequa Trunk or Treat event and collected items and donations for Bethany House.
This year the Loukoumi Foundation also united several groups in the New York area by renting a school bus to transport over 50 children to several good deed events throughout the area. The itinerary included stops at the following:
- BUS STOP 1 – 10:30 am – The bus first stopped at the Westchester Children’s Museum in Rye, NY where the Loukoumi Make A Difference Foundation and the Museum officially announced the Make A Difference with Loukoumi exhibit at the Museum. The Loukoumi Foundation also presented a check to the Museum for their sponsorship of the exhibit that will focus on literary awareness and appreciation. All museum visitors and bus tour participants brought new or lightly used book to donate to kids for literacy awareness.
- BUS STOP 2 – 12:30 pm – The second bus stop was at the Philoptochos Chapter of The Greek Orthodox Church of Our Saviour in Rye, NY. Author Nick Katsoris read the book “Loukoumi’s Good Deeds,” Philoptochos members together with the youth of the parish assembled home baskets for Veterans transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing and personalized the baskets with original artwork and thank you cards. Loukoumi books will also be donated to The Wounded Warriors Project.
- BUS STOP 3 – 2:15 pm – Loukoumi met with Fordham University’s St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Club (titled “Up ‘til Dawn) following the third quarter at the Fordham Football Game to raise money for St. Jude. Kids made caring cards for patients at St. Jude and donate $1 each to the Hospital. Several local schools participated as well including The Anne Hutchinson School, The Chapel School, PS 205, Holy Trinity etc. and Loukoumi even got to meet the Fordham Ram mascot!
- BUS STOP – 4:30 pm – The William Spyropoulos School in Flushing, Queens hosted a coat drive for kids. Author Nick Katsoris read the book Loukoumi And The Schoolyard Bully. Coats were collected from schools throughout the NY area and donated to the New York Cares Coat Drive.
- BUS STOP 5 – 7pm – End of the day celebratory party at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in New Rochelle celebrating Making A Difference. The event included a DJ, while several kids set up tables to collect donations through their good deed projects for their favorite charities including: The New Rochelle Humane Society, The American Cancer Society and The Joey Foundation Jamaica project.
In October 2014 the Loukoumi Foundation produced a national TV Special titled “Make A Difference With Loukoumi,” encouraging children to make a difference. For more on National Make A Difference Day please visit: www.makeadifferenceday.com and for more about Make A Difference with Loukoumi please visit: www.LoukoumiFoundation.org.