OC United held its annual Love Fullerton serve day Saturday, hosting more than 45 projects city-wide with over 1,200 volunteers after last year’s event was postponed and later canceled due to the pandemic.
In past years, Fullerton’s serve day initiated with an in-person gathering and rally. Because of current circumstances, this year’s rally was held virtually with a pre-recorded video that premiered at 8 a.m. About 60 people watched it live.
“Volunteering not only helps make our cities better, volunteering makes us better as people and helps us get to know and appreciate the communities that we live [in],” Executive Director of OC United, Jay Williams said in the 6-minute video.
Volunteers set out to their project sites at 9 a.m. where they received their LoveFullerton2021 shirts and served the city through seven different project types. These projects included a blood drive, city projects, encouragement, Love Fullerton support, neighborhood, people in need and schools.
COVID-19 blood drive
The American Red Cross (ARC) hosted the event’s blood drive at the Fullerton Free gymnasium. Locals came in immediately at 9 a.m. to donate. Project Leader Jacquelyn Herrera checked in visitors and offered free snacks and water, ensuring that the operation ran smoothly.
“As things are opening up, you can see more accidents happening so the need for blood is actually increasing right now and our hospitals are starting to hit the shortage mark. So we’re hoping that people won’t be afraid for COVID, they’ll come out and still donate blood,” Herrera said.
Numerous measures were applied so that guests felt safe. Beds were spaced six feet apart, donor and staff’s temperatures were checked prior and aseptic scrubs were used on donors, amongst others.
“The more blood we collect the more lives saved. Each unit that we collect saves at least three lives,” ARC staffer David Person said. “Everything is totally safe. We’ve been collecting blood even through the pandemic. Everything that we use is one-time use only.”
Fullerton Train Station area clean up and graffiti removal
The Fullerton Train Station clean-up was one of seven city projects held during Love Fullerton. Twenty volunteers signed up to remove litter from the train station’s platform, parking lot and surrounding areas. They had also planned on a graffiti clean-up, but were asked not to as the city will be doing so instead.
Despite being an Anaheim resident, Vincent Chau, 15, felt he was part of the Fullerton community as a member of the city’s Boy Scout Troop 292. Chau reminisced his first time volunteering for Love Fullerton.
“It makes me feel really good about myself because I’m helping the community,” Chau said as he picked up mostly cigarette buds. “The first time I did it, I felt great about myself. That was a great day.”
He noted that he hasn’t had much face-to-face interaction because of the pandemic; his troop has been meeting over Zoom calls for the past year. Saturday’s serve day was the first time they gathered in person.
“It’s great to see friends. One of our scouts that came is one of my good friends and I haven’t seen him since the pandemic started, so we’ve gotten some time to catch up and it’s just great to see him,” Chau explained.
Troop 292 had two groups of scouts and parents volunteer for the station’s clean-up. Their troop participates in a lot of volunteer work throughout the city and sign up for Love Fullerton’s serve day every year. Other groups from the troop were volunteering at other project sites in Fullerton.
Police Car Detailing
Volunteers, including members of Fullerton’s Boy Scout Troop 93, gathered at the Fullerton Police Department on Commonwealth Avenue.
Prepared with hats, sunscreen and towels, the troop helped the department battle grime—by washing police SUVs, cruisers and an all-terrain vehicle.
“We probably had about 30 to 40 boy scouts and their parents, … and we washed 17 different police vehicles,” Project Leader John Schaefer said. “[It] is a great way to serve our city and our police department, so I am just really jazzed about that, and I think it went very well.”
Enjoying their time giving back, the scouts laughed and flung drops of water at each other when not hard at work.
The core values of scouting emphasize leadership and character, making Love Fullerton and the police vehicle detailing project a perfect opportunity for local scouts to practice these values close to home.
Fullerton Union High School Campus spruce up
A team of about 40 people volunteered to beautify Fullerton Union High School’s campus.
Project leader Kelly Virden, who teaches there, was busy blowing dirt and litter, and moving chairs and other supplies while others filled a dumpster with trash.
Volunteers worked to clean out cubbies underneath the football track seats, and a small room. The cleaning was done to help reorganize and clear out the clutter so they could be more functional for the school’s custodial workers.
“The turnout is really good. We had more than anticipated, especially still in the middle of a pandemic,” Melisa Keller, one of the project leaders said.
Shannon Lloyd, a Fullerton College alumna and fourth-grade teacher for the Orange Unified School District said, “It’s been really nice to give back to Fullerton, to help out the school. I’m a teacher, and this year’s been exceptionally hard, so it’s nice to give back.”
Although there was no luncheon or after-party following the service projects, the organizers of this year’s Love Fullerton encouraged volunteers to support local businesses and eat at Fullerton’s many restaurants. Ubatuba Açaí offered a free small acai bowl and Matador Cantina y Cocina gave 50% off to volunteers wearing their LoveFullerton2021 shirt.
OC United is partnered with Love Our Cities, a non-profit organization that hosts numerous community-wide volunteer days, serving more than 90 cities with the help of over 200,000 volunteers.
“In the next 10 years, we got big plans and dreams that we’re going to help over a thousand cities all around the world,” Jeff Pishney, Founder and CEO of Love Our Cities said. “We can make this city a better place, together.”
For more information about Love Fullerton, visit their website by clicking here.