Thousands of new UCLA students will demonstrate on Oct. 7 that being a Bruin means serving the community, when roughly 3,500 freshmen and transfers participate in the ninth annual UCLA Volunteer Day.
With leadership from more than 400 additional Bruins — including returning students, alumni, faculty, staff, parents and community members — Volunteer Day will complete service projects at 31 locations across Los Angeles. Volunteers will work in each of the city’s 15 City Council districts on projects at K-12 schools, veterans services sites, parks, food banks, and senior and neighborhood centers. Projects include mural painting and beautification at schools and community centers; landscaping at parks; interacting with seniors; and activities with school children.
“Service is part of the Bruin experience, and a great way for new students to experience the city they are living in,” said Ashley Love Smith, interim director of the UCLA Volunteer Center. “At some of our service sites, they wait all year for us and the work we do is very important to them, whether it’s painting murals and pulling weeds at a school or clearing brush in Griffith Park. It’s work they can’t afford without volunteers. And for a lot of students, this sparks their interest in future projects.”
Approximately 3,000 new students will ride across the city on 60 buses early Saturday morning to meet the more than 400 team captains at their volunteer sites, and an anticipated 500 additional volunteers will be on campus writing letters of thanks to U.S service members through Operation Gratitude.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Los Angeles Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Los Angeles Unified School District Board member George McKenna are scheduled to visit Horace Mann UCLA Community School, where they will join about 200 Bruin volunteers in projects like adding a new mural, doing landscaping work in the front of the school, and repainting the basketball courts and lunch area.
Mann UCLA is UCLA’s newest community school, and was selected for Volunteer Day in part due to the needs of the students: 82 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and many are in the foster care system or have special needs.
Since beginning in 2009, Volunteer Day has developed into a cornerstone of the UCLA experience that tens of thousands of new students have participated in. The initiative developed from Block’s pledge to build upon the university’s tradition of service and make UCLA a national leader in volunteerism.
What began as the nation’s largest community participation event for new students has become a model for similar projects nationwide. The UCLA Volunteer Center has turned the annual event into a call to action that inspires many Bruins to volunteer year round and throughout their lives.