UCSD students get 'Hands On' in SD

Over 300 UCSD students gave up studying for a day on May 4 and instead participated in Hands On San Diego.

The annual one-day event sponsored by UCSD’s Volunteer Connection allowed students to choose from many local volunteer opportunities displayed on the Sun God lawn. Students then dispersed with their volunteer choices throughout San Diego.

Participants had 18 different volunteer options, which included clean-up projects, helping the elderly and feeding the hungry.

Although specific goals varied, the Hands On San Diego participants shared a common passion for volunteering.

“”I like doing things for other people,”” said Thurgood Marshall College freshman Rebecca Funke. “”I was just looking for something to volunteer for.””

Fellow volunteers Roxana Vatanparast and Karendip Braich concurred. “”We just wanted to help out.””

While many of the volunteers were individuals or informal groups of friends, official student associations also attended.

“”We [had] some sororities, we [had] some fraternities,”” said head organizer Kimmy Chela. “”A few sports teams, the pre-med club and the Marshall RAs also [did] it … we [had] a whole bunch of groups.””

The men’s volleyball team was one such group.

“”We’re just reversing the flow of student apathy,”” said men’s volleyball player Nate Jones.

Students volunteering for a Special Olympics track meet were mainly enlisted as one-person cheering squads. Each volunteer was partnered with an individual athlete and assigned the task of keeping the athlete’s spirits high.

Revelle freshmen Kaitlyn Lucas and Andrea Bryan were assigned the duty of passing out Special Olympics medals to victorious athletes. Although the process did not involve the dramatic festivities of the Summer Olympics medal ceremonies, the athletes’ smiles were just as big.

“”This is great,”” Lucas said, bearing a grin herself. Lucas said she and Bryan signed up for Hands On San Diego with the rest of the girls in their Revelle suite.

Other opportunities in this year’s Hands On San Diego included throwing a Cinco de Mayo party for the elderly, serving breakfast to the homeless and helping Miramar Landfill’s native plant nursery to restore habitats.

Some UCSD volunteers who chose to help children paint a mural at San Diego’s Children’s Museum had similarly high spirits.

“”The students are just having a great time,”” said Cleda-Marie Simmons, the designer of the mural and an internationally recognized American painter.

Volunteers at the Children’s Museum taught young painters how to use a paintbrush, how to stay within lines, how to keep paint on the mural and off their clothes, and other basics of painting. The volunteers also touched up some of the children’s work.

“”Volunteering at a place like this reminds you that San Diego has a spirit,”” said Roosevelt senior and Children’s Museum volunteer Margie Himes. “”Sometimes UCSD seems kind of cold.””