Hundreds of students from UC Irvine gathered in Aldrich Park on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at noon to register for UCI’s first ever “UC I Give Back” event.
Hosted by the Associated Students of UCI (ASUCI) in a partnership with THINK Together, (Teaching Helping Inspiring & Nurturing Kids), a Santa Ana-based non-profit organization aimed — according to their mission statement — at providing “high quality academically oriented out-of-school programs from students regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic status.” This event was the first of its kind during Welcome Week at UCI.
“What I want people to take away is the privilege that we all have here, of making it to higher education, which is really an equalizer in society nowadays,” Tony Tizcareno, ASUCI Vice President of Administrative Affairs, said. “Each of us has our own privilege. Anything we can do to help out others would be great.”
To communicate this lesson through volunteer efforts, 13 buses, 10 charter buses and three Anteater Express shuttles drove about 300 people to a total of approximately 47 different locations in the Santa Ana and Tustin school districts to help with after-school programs on that Wednesday afternoon.
“We would love, next year, just to have the buses be a little bit more organized. The way people sign up to load the buses, it was a little bit hectic in that everyone wants to be with their friends but they signed up at different times. So next year, just making sure that as people sign up, they sign up together and they know what bus they’re going on.” Tizcareno said, looking back on the inaugural volunteer day.
An event occurred that day that caught staffers off guard. As one of the last few buses left campus, it was hit by a car. Though everyone on the bus was safe, the volunteers on board had to wait for California Highway Patrol to arrive at the scene and obtain every individual’s information and for another bus to pick them up.
The accident might have slowed down the momentum, but it did not prevent students from volunteering.
“I feel like everyone who went and came back had a positive experience about it. Some things that they mentioned were that they wished they knew more about THINK Together. So it’s definitely something we will want to do. A lot of them were interested in full-time volunteering, which is really great because it was just like an opportunity for them to get involved. They were wanting to learn more about it on their own, which is really great,” Tizcareno said.
Volunteers also received free t-shirts when they registered at the event and were served lunch before boarding the buses.
He described that UCLA Volunteer Day was mandatory for all first year Bruins, but since this was UCI’s first year doing the volunteering event, it was not mandatory.
Staffing “UC I Give Back” was a cross collaboration effort executed by Anteaters in Action under ASUCI’s Office of Administrative Affairs, and ASUCI’s Student Services, traditionally the one in charge of putting on all Welcome Week events.
“We wanted to provide a different opportunity for students during Welcome Week. ASUCI is a lot more than just putting on concerts and festivals.”