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WeHo Prepares for MLK Day of Service

By Aaron Blevins, 12/29/2011

Donation Drive in December Kicks Off Local Projects


The city of West Hollywood is prepping for its second annual MLK Day of Service, and city staff members held a donation drive in early December to raise awareness and help pair volunteers with organizations in need.

Volunteers Danielle McGuire (left) and Bianca Andriana wrote letters to the troops as part of a Day of Service program held in December. (photo by Aaron Blevins)

The city’s Day of Service project will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Jan. 14 at West Hollywood Elementary School. Volunteers will complete beautification work to the front of the school’s campus.

However, the city is using the event to promote other volunteer opportunities in the city throughout January. Participating organizations include Ace of Hearts, Heal the Bay, Operation Gratitude, Tails of the City Animal Rescue and TreePeople.

“We’re looking to basically activate people, but we’re also looking to accommodate for their interests,” said Larissa Fooks, administrative services specialist for the city.

Last year’s event went well, she said, as 24 volunteers helped at the SOVA food pantry, which had opened a new office in West Hollywood at the time. She said the city uses the volunteer opportunities to build consciousness and motivate residents.

“Each year, it’s getting bigger,” Fooks said.

The participating organizations are certainly appreciative of the help. Julia Charles, West Hollywood Elementary School’s principal, said the project scope is still being determined, but the help is needed in an era of budget cuts.

“It’s incredibly helpful because, as a school, we’re not getting any money … to do beautification projects,” Charles said. “Anytime we can partner with an agency … it’s always to our benefit.”

Fooks said approximately 30 people are needed for the work at the school. She encouraged residents looking to volunteer to consider the other organizations’ projects. They include:

• Ace of Hearts, a nonprofit dog rescue organization that needs help with adoptions from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 7 and 14 at Petco, 508 N. Doheny Drive in West Hollywood. To register, call (310)358-3344 or e-mail dogsfromheaven@aol.com.

• Heal the Bay, an organization that seeks to make Southern California’s coastal waters and watersheds clean, healthy and safe. Heal the Bay’s next event will be from 10 a.m. to noon on Jan. 21 at a yet-to-be determined location. No RSVP is needed, but for more information, call (800)432-5229, ext. 148.

• Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages and letters to U.S. military personnel overseas. To participate, e-mail opgratvolunteer1@aol.com or visit www.operationgratitude.org.

• Tails of the City Animal Rescue, which holds pet adoptions in Los Angeles. The events are held from 11:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. every Saturday at Petco, 200 S. La Brea Ave., Suite C. For more information, visit www.tailsofthecityrescue.com.

• TreePeople, an environmental nonprofit organization, is holding a Park Work Day from 9 a.m. to noon on Jan. 14 at Coldwater Canyon Park. To register, e-mail volunteer@treepeople.org.

• Big Sunday Weekend, during which projects are scheduled throughout the weekend at hundreds of nonprofits, schools and other agencies in the region. The event will be held May 5 and 6. For more information, visit www.bigsunday.org.

Fooks said it is possible that the city may add another event or two to the list, but all of the participating organizations have coordinated with West Hollywood in the past. She said the city hopes that the volunteers continue to work with the organizations beyond the Day of Service.

“The one time thing is great, but they have ongoing needs,” Fooks said.

She said the donation drive in early December went well, but organizers are still accepting toys and food. Donations can be dropped off at West Hollywood City Hall between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Fooks said that, generally, the organizations request that volunteers sign-up before participating. She said interested residents can also e-mail wehovcorps@gmail.com for information.



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