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2007 Make A Difference Day Award - Monterey, CA

Make A Difference Day 2007 - NATIONAL AWARD: Rebuilding Together, Monterey, C

NATIONAL AWARD: Rebuilding Together, Monterey, CA

USA Weekend magazine coverSoldiers studying languages say "we care"

For years, 78-year-old Eddie Jones, a retired Army mess steward, had a mess in his front yard. Yet the carpet remnants, lumber, paint cans and buckets of nails that the disabled vet planned to use -- one day -- always took a back seat to caring for his ailing wife.

But on Make A Difference Day, today's military men and women came to the rescue. A team of 192 volunteers from the nearby Presidio of Monterey -- where active-duty soldiers come for intensive foreign language study -- cleared Jones' yard and painted and landscaped at four other properties, using $3,500 worth of donated supplies.

Sgt. Charles Buman, 27, rallied Presidio volunteers by emphasizing the military ties of the homeowners, who are based in the neighboring town of Seaside. In addition to Jones, two of the four remaining homeowners were military widows. "We weren't looking for recognition," Buman says. "It's soldiers helping soldiers. It's us helping one of our own. He's done more than his fair share for us."

After 13 military men and women and six civilians finished working at Jones' pink-and-white bungalow, he could finally marvel at his newly spotless yard. "You do like to say 'thank you,' and that's all they would let me do," Jones says. "They made a friend with me, and I'm hoping I can be a friend to them."

$10,000 Make A Difference Day Grant donated by Paul Newman, benefits Rebuilding Together, Monterey, Calif