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L.A. volunteerism way up on MLK Day

January 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Monday was a day of service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Barack Obama called on Americans across the country to serve their neighbors and help them, and it appears Americans have listened. It was a picture-perfect day in Southern California for volunteers to go out and give back to their community. Many of them did break a sweat in Monday's weather. But while they were giving back, one of the benefits, some tell us, is that giving back to the community also meant to give to their neighbors.

When it comes to community service, you're never too old or too young to start giving back. From Silver Lake to Playa Del Rey, all across the Southland volunteers used Monday's holiday to give back.

The group L.A. Neighborhood Cleanup Project recruited 250 volunteers to clean up the Silver Lake area.

"People can make a difference on a small scale, you know, you can actually change a community a lot if you're willing to dedicate even an hour of your time on the weekends and really put some effort in," said John Lobato, L.A. Neighborhood Cleanup Project.

There were a lot of young people at the community service projects. At the Boys and Girls Club in Venice, more than 120 volunteers, most of them young people, showed up to clean up the facility.

"Just knowing that you're helping a center, you're going to make kids' lives better after school, going to give them a place to go, make sure they stay out of trouble, I get the satisfaction of knowing you're contributing," said volunteer Robin Patch.

"I've already had people ask me how you can get involved, and when we're going to have another day of service, so now we're thinking of having another day of service every quarter where people in the community can come together and take care of the center because this center takes care of the community," said Teddy Seraphine, Boys and Girls Club of Venice.

Some said there was one big benefit of volunteering Monday. You get to know your neighbors, and then build and strengthen your sense of community.

"The attention to the awareness of our connection as human beings first of all, and then how we can then be of service to one another. And that's part of the caring and connection," said volunteer Tamara Fago.

"I think it's a change of consciousness that's happening, and this is proof of it," said volunteer Yvonne Kelly.

And that was one of the interesting observations, the diversity of the groups we went to in different parts of the city. Also, organizers said that compared to previous years on King's birthday, there were more volunteers Monday.


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