This post was updated Oct. 2 at 2:58 p.m.
Members of the UCLA community volunteered in about 70 different projects around the world in UCLA’s 10th annual Volunteer Day on Saturday.
This year UCLA expanded Volunteer Day beyond Los Angeles and included alumni, staff and faculty as regular volunteers rather than just students for the first time.
Ashley Love-Smith, the director of the UCLA Volunteer Center, said that participants around the world were able to impact thousands of people in the communities they served.
“Students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members are pouring into volunteer sites around the world for UCLA’s 10th Volunteer Day,” said Love-Smith. “This is truly a global day of service, and Bruins are making a meaningful difference in thousands of lives.”
Projects included conducting a village clean-up in Namibia, restoring monarch butterfly habitats in Minnesota, managing a blood drive in Hong Kong and caring for shelter dogs in Taipei, Taiwan, according to the UCLA Volunteer Center.
The program also organized projects at four homeless shelters, eight food banks, and nine schools, in addition to three veteran projects and 27 gardening, landscaping and public space beautification projects, in locations in Los Angeles, across the United States and around the world. The projects also included one senior center and three animal shelters.
UCLA alumna Eunice Lee led a village cleanup with schoolchildren in Kasote, Namibia. Lee guided 14 students to a site near the regional dump, where people from a nearby town often leave trash on Kasote village roads instead of taking it to a dumping site. The students hauled 16 bags of trash off their road and to the dump.
Lee said she admires how the UCLA community comes together each year to give back.
“It’s truly amazing how the spirit of volunteerism transcends even a distance of thousands of miles,” Lee said. “I admire how our Bruin family unites each year to pay it forward, so I was very excited when presented with the opportunity to partake this year.”
Lee participated in Volunteer Day as a student at UCLA and currently works in Namibia as an English teacher in the Peace Corps.
“I am currently one year into my volunteer service as an English teacher in the Kavango region, and I am grateful that I was able to share my UCLA story with my learners (students),” said Lee.
The UCLA Alumni Association Hong Kong Network organized a blood drive in Hong Kong. Led by Ivy Lam, network vice president, the project included 17 volunteers and their friends and family.
Lam said she thinks blood donation is a necessary form of volunteering because blood cannot be created artificially.
“Blood cannot be artificially produced by technology, which makes blood donation a paramount humanitarian action in saving lives,” Lam said. “Giving out your blood to help those in need will change their lives forever.”
Karen McClain, senior director of the Volunteer Center, said that more than 50,000 volunteers have contributed about $8 million worth of service to the Los Angeles area over the past 9 Volunteer Days. Volunteer Day participants have also contributed more than 300,000 volunteer hours.
This year the Volunteer Center also allowed students to choose their preferred volunteer sites in advance, McClain said.
She added Volunteer Day enlisted fewer volunteers this year than previous years, which she said allowed participants to work on projects that include more interaction with the community such as volunteer work in homeless shelters, soup kitchens and community gardens. She said the goal is to inspire closer connections between volunteers and the people they help.
The goal of UCLA’s Volunteer Day and Volunteer Center is to encourage students to volunteer year-round and throughout their lives rather than only the efforts the UCLA community makes of giving back, said McClain.