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Campus Honors Martin Luther King Jr. at Parade and Day of Service

View Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Day of Service Slideshow | Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Marching behind a banner declaring “Freedom through Education,” more than 500 members of the UC San Diego community turned out to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy in San Diego’s 32nd annual MLK Day Parade. Dozens of the university’s participants, including Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, had just come from National City where they helped to restore portions of the American Legion Hall as part of the annual MLK Day of Service and UC San Diego’s Volunteer50 program.

“It is a proud and enduring tradition for the UC San Diego community to march in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and take part in the Day of Service,” said Fox. “This event is a celebration of our commitment to both diversity and public service.”

UC San Diego’s Volunteer50 initiative—a campus tradition launched as part of last year’s 50th Anniversary celebration—played an integral role in helping to recruit and coordinate volunteers for the Day of Service. Volunteer50 challenges all campus and community members to volunteer 50 hours or more during the academic year. Last year, volunteers donated more than 62,000 hours, contributing roughly $1.5 million in free labor, according to calculations from Independent Sector.

Bernice Diaz was one of the volunteers who turned out to help restore, paint and revive the American Legion Hall #225. “It’s very exciting to see the community come together in celebration of this event, and to work together to make a difference locally,” said Diaz, who is a second year political science major.  Diaz participates in numerous service projects, from working with UC San Diego’s Community Law Project, which support students interested in public policy and law-related careers, to working with San Diego County’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

“Volunteering has been a humbling experience, and it’s helped me to put into perspective what is really important in life,” she said. This summer, Diaz plans to travel to the Philippines with her church group to deliver relief supplies to victims of Tropical Storm Washi, which struck the region Dec. 16 through 18 and left more than 1,200 people dead. “When I was 12, my family moved to the U.S. from the Philippines, but I haven’t been back since. I’m looking forward to going back and helping out as I can.”

Volunteer50 unites campus and community volunteers of all areas and interests—including seasoned volunteers and those just getting started—to demonstrate the widespread and diverse contributions of the UC San Diego community. Ranked number one in the nation for public service by the Washington Monthly, UC San Diego is known for making a positive impact on the region and the world, in addition to being an academic powerhouse. In recognition of this service, Volunteer50 is offering monthly prizes to participants. From January through June, volunteers who record their hours online will be entered into a prize drawing, beginning with a chance to win an iPod in January.

“We know that the UC San Diego community is already very active in volunteering,” said Volunteer50 Committee Chair Kim Newin. “We’re asking volunteers to tell us about the hours they donate so that we can better show the impact of our university’s community service.”

For more information about Volunteer50 and to register and record hours, visit http://volunteer50.ucsd.edu.

Martin Luther Kind Jr. Parade