In honor of UC Irvine’s 50th anniversary, the school hosted “Fifty for 50 Volunteer Week” last week, marking the start of a new initiative to encourage every UCI student, faculty and staff to volunteer 50 hours by the end of the school year.
“It is extraordinary to see how many students volunteer for dozens of activities, whether it’s for education or hunger, or homelessness or children’s issues. There are so many different things that students do that are really inspirational for all of us on campus,” said Karina Hamilton, Program Director of the Dalai Lama Scholarship, a foundation that promotes community service.
The kickoff for the event was held by the Student Center, where students were given information about the events of the week. So far, two hundred and four students have pledged to volunteer. Should every member of the UCI community participate, 50,000 volunteer hours are expected to be completed by June 2016.
Various organizations held events throughout the week to promote civic engagement.
On Tuesday, the student organization “Anteaters Are Better Together” held a volunteer event where students made over 1150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen in Costa Mesa.
That same day, twelve volunteers from the UCI community went on a trip to the “Incredible Edible Farm” on behalf of Harvest for Hunger. Members picked a total of 1,225 pounds of produce at the harvest, which will provide food for 1,021 people.
The following day, Veterans Service Center hosted Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to army soldiers, veterans, and caregivers who are stationed overseas.
On Thursday, UCI and the O.C. United Way hosted the O.C. Working Together Summit in order to address the county’s social issues and to initiate solutions. The summit, which was held for graduate students, faculty, and nonprofit leaders, focused on K-12 education, family violence, financial stability, health and housing.
“It is all about change as opposed to charity,” said Max L. Gardner, the O.C. United Way President and CEO.. “How do we make this community different 10 years, 20, 30 years from now than it is today?”
In ten years, the organization aims to reduce financial instability and homelessness in the community by 25 percent and decrease child obesity rates by 20 percent.
On Friday, several students, faculty, and local community members attended the “Planting the Seeds for a Better O.C.” event at the Newport Banning Land Trust. The volunteers planted over 100 plants the Newport area to promote environmental preservation.
“These local non profits really need our help. I’m thrilled to see that students learned something, were exposed to opportunities that are local, and realized that a big impact can be made in a few days,” said Sandy Jones, Director of Community & Local Government Relations.