For UCLA Volunteer Day, virtual participation provides real help

Civic Engagement

For Bruins, answering the call to serve others took on a different meaning this weekend as hundreds of people participated in UCLA’s 12th annual Volunteer Day, pivoting from the event’s traditionally massive in-person projects to fit the reality of the pandemic.

But with virtual sessions came some benefits. For the first time, Bruins in different states could participate in the same projects together, and easily participate in multiple sessions. Educational panels on pressing societal issues, and information sessions on how to get involved with some of UCLA’s key nonprofit partners served a different kind of need than beautifying schools and sorting food-bank donations. Only blood donations and a food-and-toiletries “basic needs” drive took place in person, masked and with participants practicing safe distancing. Bruins filled all 50 time slots for blood donations.

“Things are a little different this year,” Chancellor Gene Block acknowledged in a video address before each of the sessions. “We aren’t piling onto buses and fanning out across the city, but I’m so glad we’re still coming together in the spirit of public service.”

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