This story is from UCLA Today, a discontinued print and web publication.

Thousands of UCLA students blanket city for Volunteer Day

In what is believed to be the nation's largest-ever university-organized volunteer day, an army of 4,300 UCLA freshmen and transfer students, the size of a NATO brigade, fanned out across Los Angeles Tuesday morning to make the city a better place.
Although classes don't start until Thursday, students are getting a lesson in community service. For UCLA's first Volunteer Day, nearly 1,000 students began trail repair at Griffith Park, 1,000 more tackled beach clean-up at Point Dume in Malibu, and about 500 each beautified the Veterans Affairs hospital in West Los Angeles and five Los Angeles Unified School District campuses.
"Being a Bruin means much more than getting your education at one of the nation's greatest academic institutions," said Antoinette Mongelli, director of UCLA's new Volunteer Center. "It means carrying into your life an in-your-bones dedication to public service."
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, who has made volunteerism a priority since taking the reins in 2007, was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at Gompers Middle School in South Los Angeles to applaud the 600 Bruins blanketing the campus. They scurried across the asphalt, repainting basketball court outlines and giving buildings a new coat of paint. (Watch the video)
"This is an opportunity right at the get-go to say, 'Service is important at UCLA,'" Block said. "UCLA Volunteer Day is an affirmation of UCLA's obligation, as a public university, to serve the community … It's an opportunity for our students to help out, but hopefully it's just the beginning of a year long of service."
All together, the 4,300 students, joined by 300 staff, faculty, alumni and older undergraduates who served as task captains, slathered on 555 gallons of paint, planted dozens of trees at schools, restored trails at Griffith Park, rebuilt fences at Point Dume and more. Across the 26 different work sites, the people who care for the campuses and parks on a daily basis told the students how much the work meant.
At Point Dume, state park ranger Dan Raducanu said the 1,000 students' three hours of work added up to more volunteer time than he had received from other volunteer organizations all season.
"I can't tell you how grateful we are — I'm just buzzing with excitement," Raducanu told the volunteers. "We have been fighting a losing battle to keep up with the enormous number of visitors, and so many tasks have been overlooked because of the tight budget. This will help us bring the preserve back to the status quo. You're doing a world of good — more than you will ever know."
Among the students listening to Raducanu was UCLA senior Farah Shamolian, a task captain and a regular volunteer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
"I came here to give back to the community and to be part of something new and exciting," Shamolian said. "Today will help teach students to balance their lives between school, their personal life and community service."
Monique Ho, an incoming freshman from San Jose, said she was excited to be part of the first Volunteer Day.
"It's really cool to see everyone out here," she said. "In high school, so many people just did volunteer work to get into college, to put it on their application. That's what makes today so special — we're really doing it for a good reason."
The five LAUSD campuses benefitting from the platoons of volunteers were Gompers Middle School in South Los Angeles, University High School in West Los Angeles, Contreras High School and Gratts Elementary School in downtown Los Angeles, and Kester Elementary School in Sherman Oaks.
Volunteer Day was organized in partnership with L.A. Works, a volunteer action center that links volunteers to service opportunities, and sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Hollywood's leading charitable organization, which provided a $250,000 grant. UCLA's new Volunteer Center, which officially launched just 24 hours before Volunteer Day, is funded by The UCLA Foundation.
Photos and tweets about Volunteer Day poured in from students, staff and faculty all morning, making hundreds of details available on Twitter at #uclavol and creating an ever-growing Flickr photo page and an interactive photo-map.
For more details, view the news release, the media advisory and the story from UCLA Today.
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