November 08, 2010 12:00 PM

Tough times demand even bigger spirits. So for the 2010 Heroes of the Year awards, we chose those men and women who noticed great unfilled needs in the world around them and dug deep to make a difference. From Dr. Timothy Miller, who rebuilds the faces of servicemen and women injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, to Bruno Serato, a restaurateur who couldn’t let the kids in his own Anaheim, Calif., neighborhood go hungry another day, the 2010 winners have found ways to do good. Surgeon David Vanderpool and his family brought their medical team to Haiti immediately after the quake struck last January and have returned to that country 10 times since, while educator Tim King transformed some of Chicago’s most at-risk young people into college-bound students. Alabama plant manager Chuck Sibley refused to lay off his workers during a slowdown; instead he paid them to help in the community-a service that has proved addictive for many of them.

This year, our Heroes awards have a twist: While PEOPLE editors selected five winners, you, our readers, chose the sixth. Andrea Faris Roberts-who finds adoptive homes for children with Down syndrome born outside the U.S.-won 30 percent of more than 66,000 votes online to become our first Readers’ Choice Hero. With the support of our sponsor, OnStar, PEOPLE is delighted to present Roberts, and the other five winners, with $10,000 for his or her cause. We hope they and the other heroes we feature every week will continue to move and inspire our readers-and change the world.