Big Sunday time to open big hearts

first_imgWhile those activities are offered through Big Sunday, many small public schools hope residents will lend a hand to help beautify campuses. San Fernando High School hopes 300 volunteers will show up Saturday, when organizers plan to plant trees, pick up trash and paint over graffiti. “We want the school to look better, so people will know we care,” said 17-year-old Norma Camacho. “I think (Big Sunday) is a great event because it gets everyone together to help the community.” And Bertrand Elementary School in Reseda needs help planting flowers and trees, and cleaning up smudged hallway walls. “We have a garden in the back of our school where we need plants and we hope to have a garden club where the classrooms will take a section and can learn from it,” said Assistant Principal Marilyn Fils. Fils said she hopes the experience will resonate with students if they see their parents volunteer. “I think it helps provide children with some ownership, and to have pride in their school,” Fils said. “I think hands-on volunteerism is really important, because not everyone can give money and money isn’t always what you need.” Big Sunday founder Levinson said he hopes volunteers will also consider volunteering outside the neighborhood, so they can experience other parts of Los Angeles. “The idea is really to mix it up,” Levinson said. “My feeling is everybody should be getting something out of it. Volunteering should not be about suffering. “What’s interesting about this day is that all walks of life participate,” Levinson said. “We have movie stars working alongside those who live on Skid Row.” [email protected] (818) 713-3664 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Up to 50,000 volunteers will fan out this weekend around Los Angeles, erasing graffiti, sprucing up schools, visiting senior citizens and planting trees in what is billed as one of the largest community-service campaigns in Southern California. More than 70 schools, nonprofit organizations and civic groups from the San Fernando Valley have signed up to participate in Big Sunday – a misnomer, since the event actually spans both Saturday and Sunday. “My honest hope is that everybody finds a place in which they can help out,” said David Levinson, who founded the program in 1999 at Temple Israel in Hollywood. “It’s a community-building day, to bring all people from all walks of life together to make a difference.” The event has blossomed since that first year, when 300 volunteers participated. More than 32,000 people signed up last year, when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa combined it with a Day of Service he’d launched when serving on the City Council. Earlier this month, Villaraigosa said Big Sunday “makes the city believe in itself.” “There is only so much that we, as elected officials, can do,” he said. “It takes people getting involved to make a difference.” The popularity of Big Sunday stands in sharp contrast to volunteer efforts statewide, which declined 3 percent last year, says a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Volunteers are vital to the health of our state and nation,” said Karen Baker, executive director of CaliforniaVolunteers, a state agency that produces initiatives to attract volunteers. “We cannot afford for Californians to wait for the next disaster to strike to give their time and talents to strengthen their communities.” Statewide, more than 6 million residents donated their time, which totals about $15 billion in service. The report found that 20 percent of Californians would prefer to volunteer as tutors or teachers. last_img

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