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Jewish Journal

Big Sunday Volunteers Top 50,000

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

May 6, 2009 | 5:54 pm

Ninth Street School, a typical Big Sunday school project — cleaning, gardening, throwing a party. Photo by Ed Carreon

Ninth Street School, a typical Big Sunday school project — cleaning, gardening, throwing a party. Photo by Ed Carreon

From repairing schoolyards to creating audio books for children’s hospitals, more than 50,000 people at 300 sites volunteered for Big Sunday May 2 and 3. Founded 10 years ago at Temple Israel of Hollywood, the event has matured into the largest regional community service event in America. This year more than 100 projects were added as requests for assistance spiked because of the economic downturn. Volunteers did everything from cleaning bathrooms at a runaway shelter downtown to creating tissue paper flowers for retirement homes, to collecting 20,000 pounds of food requested on shopping lists distributed outside of supermarkets in Orange County.

The spirit of Big Sunday — that everyone has something to give, no matter his or her age, skill set or strength — was perhaps best illustrated by a Bingo Breakfast at the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax. A group of people from a homeless shelter arrived for breakfast, but were mistaken for volunteers. They were put to work sorting and folding clothes that would be donated later in the day. They worked — happily — for three hours before Big Sunday treated them to lunch at the Farmer’s Market.

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