A bus of about 60 UCLA alumni, faculty and students unloaded at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System campus to volunteer during the annual Westside Thanksgiving Community Dinner and Celebration.
The effort was put together by the UCLA Volunteer Center, in partnership with UCLA Alumni Affairs, as part of its One Bus, One Cause program. This is the second year that the event has taken place at the VA campus, and approximately half of the thousands of people served were veterans visiting or living at the site.
The Westside Thanksgiving Community Dinner and Celebration has taken place each year since 1982. Beyond a free sit-down dinner, the event also offers those in need free haircuts, blankets, clothing, hygiene kits and a special children’s carnival. Beyond the large number of veterans served, the celebration was open to the public, with students, singles, low-income families, seniors, and homeless individuals in attendance.
“Many of the volunteers I spoke with said this was a great way to spend their Thanksgiving Day and conveyed to me that they were enthusiastic about signing up for future projects,” Volunteer Center Director Shannon Hickman said.
At the end of the day, more than 5,000 people were served. Hickman said volunteers were able to greet guests, assist with food preparation, serve food, distribute clothing and play with children at the carnival.
The One Bus, One Cause program takes the spirit of UCLA Volunteer Day and continues to spread that into the community throughout the year, taking buses to finish Volunteer Day projects and help in other ways across the Greater Los Angeles Community.
The event also embodies the commitment UCLA has in expanding and strengthening its more than 70-year relationship with the VA.
Event activities included outdoor yoga.
Alumni Affairs Associate Vice Chancellor Julie Sina got into the spirit with a festive hat.
54th District Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas lent a helping hand and smile.
Marcus Sakamoto helped volunteer with his children Raita, Taira and Arata. “They all said they want to do it again next year,” he added.
Families were able to play in a special children’s carnival.
A group of about 60 volunteers helped, and they’ll be looking forward to the next volunteer opportunity!