Anteaters heed the call

March 18, 2015

More than 800 Anteaters gathered at the Bren Events Center in December for a 50th anniversary spirit rally that kicked off the Fifty for 50 Volunteer Program. Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

Fifty for 50 program honors UCI’s tradition of giving

Anteaters aren’t content with simply throwing a party to celebrate UC Irvine’s 50th anniversary. Instead, hundreds are joining together to give 50,000 service hours back into the community through the Fifty for 50 Volunteer Program.

Launched at a spirit rally in December, Fifty for 50 honors the university’s tradition of service by encouraging UCI students, faculty and staff to personally donate 50 service hours during the two-year anniversary period concluding in June 2016.

“When this campus was dedicated 50 years ago, the vision was to create one of America’s great research universities,” Chancellor Howard Gillman said. “Those original founding faculty and students – they dreamed big. They combined an unshakable commitment to excellence with a spirit of innovation. They decided that they were going to do great things not by copying their way to the top, but by embracing new ways of thinking.

“We are the heirs to that great and good project, and we stand here today as stewards of a noble mission to be a force in human enlightenment and social progress,” he said.

Students open health clinic
Anteaters are pledging to make a difference in their communities, and a shining example is the new student-run Lestonnac Free Clinic in Garden Grove.

Students run the new Lestonnac Free Clinic in Garden Grove to provide healthcare to underserved patients. Zach Ferguson / ASUCI

Students run the new Lestonnac Free Clinic in Garden Grove to provide healthcare to underserved patients.
Zach Ferguson / ASUCI

Under the supervision of Dr. Baotran Vo, a family medicine and primary care specialist with UC Irvine Health, first- and second-year UCI medical students staff the clinic, which is open every other Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Garden Grove United Methodist Church. Undergrads shadow the medical students and handle administrative duties, such as ordering supplies.

Students raised funds to open the clinic – which began as an undergraduate club project – partly by selling banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), hot dogs and hot chocolate on Ring Mall.

Strength in numbers
UCI’s spirit of volunteerism is also catching on around campus.

In December, after the 50th anniversary spirit rally, more than 700 Anteaters filled stockings with toys, snacks and personal care products for children who benefit from the Olive Crest organization. Presented annually by UCI Staff Assembly, the party yielded 1,000 stockings – a marked increase over last year’s total of 150 and a sign that even a small investment of time can have a big impact.

Anthony Poullard, a graduate student in education, stuffs stockings after the Fifty for 50 spirit rally for children served through the Olive Crest organization. Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

Anthony Poullard, a graduate student in education, stuffs stockings after the Fifty for 50 spirit rally for children served through the Olive Crest organization.
Steve Zylius / UC Irvine

“We were overwhelmed by the support from staff, students and faculty, both in the form of donations and time,” said Dahlia Aguirre, chair of Staff Assembly. “Witnessing over 700 Anteaters happily working together in the spirit of giving was a wonderful sight to see, and knowing that UCI was able to put a smile on over 1,000 children’s faces from Olive Crest was priceless.”

About 250 UCI volunteers also joined in a “Take 15” sandwich-making event in November at the Cross-Cultural Center, working on a PB&J assembly line to help feed hungry and homeless people in Santa Ana. Created by Orange County’s Center for Living Peace, the annual event more than doubled in size, thanks to the participation of the Fifty for 50 program, Student Affairs, the Cross-Cultural Center’s Community Action Series, the UCI Dalai Lama Scholars Program, and UCI Hospitality & Dining.

Paying it back
As Gillman noted at the rally, each hour spent helping others draws attention to a tradition of service and thanks people in the region for their support.

“The accumulated impact of the Anteater Nation coming together … to serve other people will have an impact on girls and boys and men and women throughout the region in a truly extraordinary way,” he said. “What a wonderful way to celebrate our first 50 years.”

More: 50th.uci.edu/volunteer

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