Bay City News Service
Several hundred volunteers spruced up 22 Bay Area schools over the weekend as part of a regional day of service launched by Saint Mary's College of California.
The college's first "Great Bay Area Service Day for Schools" unfolded on campuses in Oakland, Richmond, East Palo Alto, Concord and other Bay Area cities as well as the Moraga campus, Saint Mary's spokesman Michael McAlpin said. Volunteers descended on schools that needed paint on buildings and outdoor facilities and landscaping, classroom organizing and other projects.
Saint Mary's officials were originally expecting between 500 and 750 volunteers to take part in the massive spring-cleaning service projects, but ended up enlisting nearly 1,000 volunteers, McAlpin said.
"Service is part of the mission of Saint Mary's and we're extremely happy to see such an outpouring of support ... from the general community," said Marshall Welch, who heads the college's community service center, Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action. The center aims to carry out the Catholic social teachings of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, McAlpin said.
Jeannette Ramirez, principal of Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood, said about 30 volunteers painted two large maps of the United States in the school's playground areas. "It's great because it gives the kids a positive place to be," she said. Ramirez said without the volunteer effort, the economically struggling school would not have been able to complete the project.
McAlpin said the day of service follows the college's long tradition of community volunteerism. This year as in years past, those efforts earned Saint Mary's a spot on the President's Higher Education Community Honor Roll, awarded by the Corporation of National and Community Service.
College officials are hoping to repeat the Bay Area-wide service program on a yearly basis.
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