Wendy Yeung is a third-year Sociology and Economics major at UCLA and a Social Media and Marketing Intern with the UCLA Volunteer Center. Here is her experience with the UCLA Community Service Commission’s Day of Service:
On November 5th, 2011, UCLA students from many different organizations on campus came out to participate in the Community Service Commission’s 9th annual Day of Service. On that chilly Saturday morning, students from Rieber, Dykstra, De Neve, Circle K, Bruin Belles, Regent Scholars, Interfaith Student Council, and members from at least 9 different Greek organizations came out to Bruin Plaza at 8:00 am for check-in, a free breakfast and a free t-shirt before departing to their assigned volunteer site.
My group went to the LA Food Bank, where we were joined shortly by another bus load of students and other community volunteers. The Food Bank employees showed us their layout of a conveyor belt that would arrange to sort and package thousands of take home items for the needy. I worked in the cereal section, which was the starting point of the whole package. A volunteer would open the box of cereal and place it on the table, where other volunteers would slip them into plastic bags, which were they carried over to sorting crates. Although I started off packaging the cereal, like most other volunteers, I moved to where it seemed I was needed most. The movement of crates backed up quickly, so I ended up sliding and positioning crates for the next part of the conveyor belt. Even though it was painful work to be hunched over for several hours, I was able to chat with other volunteers who were there with me, and our quick friendship made the work pass by all the more quickly.
The level of efficiency and diligence was incredible, as youths from all over LA worked together harmoniously to provide families and individuals with enough food for the holidays. After 3 hours of service, students from each location were shipped back to Bruin Plaza by 1:30pm to enjoy a free lunch, performances, and a special guest speaker. By the end of the day, a huge sense of accomplishment and pride filled me as I looked around and realized how much UCLA students had done for the community in just one afternoon. Many of the projects that the volunteers were participating in that day involved special services in preparation for the holidays, which helps to spread the cheery spirit during this cold winter; however our efforts should not stop after the New Year. While the large increase in involvement during the winter helps out the needy in a great way, they continue to need help throughout the year, and service organizations like CSC help to organize more volunteers to assist the community.
CSC, representing 23 student-run community service projects each year, easily maintains their reputation of being the largest completely student-run, student-initiated community service organization in the nation. With their continuing efforts, they have managed to successfully create social change in the greater Los Angeles community and promote campus-wide service programming. This year’s theme, “Hungry to Serve”, aimed to combat poverty and homelessness, thus the partnering organizations included the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, The Giving Spirit, St. Francis Center, Midnight Mission, Downtown Women’s Center, and Ascencia.
Los Angeles is the wealthiest city in the United States, yet it is also recognized as our nation’s homelessness capital – an estimated 48,000 people live on the streets of Los Angeles. UCLA students can educate themselves and get involved to alleviate this tragedy that exists right in our own city.