Saturday morning, Sept. 30, an estimated 2,000 Bruins participated in 46 volunteer projects across greater Los Angeles in the nation’s largest new-student volunteer event, UCLA Volunteer Day. The UCLA tradition has included more than 50,000 volunteers donating over 350,000 hours of service to the community during its 15-year history.
Two of the largest events Saturday included about 200 people each, including the annual Westwood Cleanup, where volunteers picked up trash and beautified the neighborhood.
Departing UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, who launched the event in 2009, was recognized at this year’s cleanup. Students presented the chancellor and his wife, Carol, with a plaque in honor of their commitment to volunteerism.
“The spirit of a public university is public service,” Block said, speaking to a crowd of students and other Bruin volunteers. “This is really a visible day for public service, and I know that many of you who volunteer today will want to come back and volunteer more through the Volunteer Center. … Thank you for all that you do. This is my last Volunteer Day — as chancellor. I’ll be back as a volunteer!”
At the Los Angeles National Cemetery, some 200 volunteers honored veterans by helping clean headstones. UCLA student veterans scrubbed alongside other Bruins, with the university’s Veteran Resource Center sponsoring the project.
“At UCLA, service is one of our True Bruin values,” said Jeffrey Hwang, UCLA Volunteer Center program coordinator. “Volunteer Day is a UCLA tradition, and having Volunteer Day right at the beginning of every school year instills that commitment to service in our new students.”
UCLA’s service to the community included neighborhood and K-12 beautification projects, serving food at shelters, giving blood, packing materials for science lessons at low-income schools, and more projects to help the unhoused, the food insecure, the environment and animals. The UCLA Volunteer Center hosts L.A.–based projects for new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.

Two UCLA students pose with large trash bags full of liter collected from Westwood.
Alison Hewitt
UCLA students participating in a street beautification project in Westwood.
David Esquivel/UCLA
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and his wife, Carol, join students and organizers in planting seeds in the garden for UCLA Volunteer Day.
A student, joined by others, cleans headstones in cemetery.
David Esquivel/UCLA
A UCLA student joins volunteers and veterans in cleaning headstones at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
Chancellor Block and Mrs. Block pose after receiving a recognition plaque for their founding UCLA Volunteer Day in 2009.
David Esquivel/UCLA
Event organizers present a plaque to Chancellor Block and Carol Block, who together launched UCLA Volunteer Day in 2009. From left to right: Naomi Hammonds, USAC president; Zephania Hartojo, lead director of programming for USAC’s Community Service Commission; Carol Block; Gene Block and Monroe Gorden Jr., vice chancellor for student affairs.