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Helping rebuild communities in the South

6/28/2011, 9:10 a.m.
Ingenuity is alive and well as Americans look for ways to make a positive impact...
Helping rebuild communities in the South

Ingenuity is alive and well as Americans look for ways to make a positive impact in communities across the country, especially in the wake of the recent environmental disasters.

Despite unanticipated devastation, the passion to move forward with positive energy shown by the residents in stricken communities can empower all of us to wonder how we can join in their cause and provide creative solutions to help. From donating clothes, food supplies and money to jumping in to help rebuild homes and schools from the ground up, every gesture - both big and small - helps. There are plenty of ways to get involved - whether it's taking action with an existing organization or by starting your own cause - and indeed one person can make a difference.

One way to make a difference is through The Pepsi Refresh Project which awards grants to projects, both big and small from individuals and organizations, that do good for the community. Since last year, Americans have chosen to award more than $20 million to community-supportive ideas that receive the greatest number of votes through this landmark fundraising effort.

This month and in light of recent news reports that touch all of us regardless of where we might live, Pepsi is challenging America, asking "How would you help communities rebuild in the South? Would you throw a benefit concert, replant some trees, or develop local youth programs?" Beginning July 1, log on to www.refresheverything.com and give Pepsi your best answer, or click through the hundreds of other entries to vote on your favorite ideas to help ensure worthy organizations receive the funding they deserve starting in August.

Last year after the tragic oil spill, Pepsi asked Americans to submit ideas that would help support and refresh the Gulf. The Pepsi Refresh Project enabled individuals to take their ideas and execute them on a local level, making a difference in the lives of those affected. Take Harvest Gulf Coast for example, started by Johnny Weber, who used the $25,000 grant to establish community gardens along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. There's also R.E.A.C.H., started by Biloxi, Miss., resident, Tony Nguyen. He used his $25,000 grant to refresh the local fishermen in his community by hosting a festival in their honor that provided a day full of respite to those affected. People like Jonathan and Tony demonstrate that individuals can help to move communities in distress forward.

Other ways to lend a hand and continue to help communities get back on track are through longstanding organizations where you can make a monetary donation, or drop off essentials that could help someone in need.

Whether you're putting your own idea into action through The Pepsi Refresh Project or getting involved with an existing organization, every gesture helps and every individual can make a huge impact.