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Volunteer Day provides opportunities to connect with LA community

Chancellor Gene Block is pictured standing with volunteers who participated in the 2023 annual UCLA Volunteer Day (Courtesy of David Esquivel/UCLA)

By Alexandra Kaiser

Oct. 3, 2023 7:42 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 3 at 11:40 p.m. 

Around 2,000 UCLA community members participated in the 15th annual UCLA Volunteer Day on Saturday.

Volunteers gathered at 46 sites on campus and around Los Angeles, including schools, parks and food banks, said Jeffrey Hwang, the UCLA Volunteer Center program coordinator, in an emailed statement. Students could volunteer with youths in need and at other sites such as park cleanups and organizations serving people experiencing homelessness, according to the UCLA Volunteer Day website.

Chancellor Gene Block established the event in 2001 as a way to help new students connect with the wider LA community and develop a desire for ongoing volunteer work, Hwang said. The university tries to partner with diverse organizations for the day, he added.

“There may be Bruins who are introduced to new communities that they have not interacted with before, and there may be Bruins who have a deep connection to specific communities and join in public service,” Hwang said.

Emma Swanton, who volunteered at the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center through the Bruin Blood Initiative, said she spent the day educating people about the process of donating and the necessity of blood platelet donors. She added that she believes volunteering is an opportunity to educate other people on the issues that students care about.

Swanton, a third-year Spanish and community and culture student, said she thinks volunteering is an important way to engage with people in the community with whom she might not otherwise interact.

“I think one of the most important parts about it is that you really talk to so many people who you never would have met before,” she said. “I think it’s the way to find out what you really want to do by experiencing things and talking to other people.”

Swanton said she enjoyed reminding event-goers that they make a difference in people’s lives when they volunteer and donate, which she thinks makes them more likely to do so in the future.

Annette Hsieh, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student who also volunteered at the Blood and Platelet Center, said she enjoys interacting with students to promote volunteering because she remembers when she was unfamiliar with the benefits of donating platelets.

Hsieh also said she thinks Volunteer Day is a good opportunity to give back to the community, especially coming from a university that has a lot of resources.

Volunteer Day aims to promote a tradition of service that students will continue after the annual event, Hwang said.

“Our hope is that as Bruins are introduced to various organizations and the communities and causes they serve, Bruins can go on to have an impact in our global communities through public service,” he said.

Contributing reports by Dylan Winward, features and student life editor. 

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Alexandra Kaiser | Campus politics editor
Kaiser is the 2022-2023 campus politics editor. She was previously a News reporter and Opinion columnist. She is also a third-year communication and political science student.
Kaiser is the 2022-2023 campus politics editor. She was previously a News reporter and Opinion columnist. She is also a third-year communication and political science student.
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