SANTA CRUZ -- The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is seeking volunteers to give back and celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.

Local nonprofits will lead volunteers in activities ranging from maintaining local gardens to refurbishing unwanted furniture. Additionally, the volunteer center started a coat drive this week that will culminate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"I think volunteering certainly speaks to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, vision and purpose," said Christine Loewe, marketing and communications coordinator for the event. "We're encouraging people to get out and take action in the community."

Participating programs include the Homeless Garden Project, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Habitat for Humanity, California Native Plant Society, Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, the Boys & Girls Club, Applied Survey Research and YouthServe.

The volunteer center was founded in 1967 to address the community's need for volunteer services. The center, which offers 17 volunteer programs and partners people with more than 400 nonprofits, mobilized 14,000 volunteers and contributed more than $5 million in service hours last year.

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County views Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a significant time for the community to gather and remember the leader, Loewe said.


Advertisement

"When we have these national days of service, people get energized about volunteering," Loewe said. "It's a reminder that volunteers are needed every day to sustain services in our community."

Hundreds of volunteers participated last Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Volunteer Center is expecting similar numbers this year, Loewe said.

The event will include large and small projects to get people involved. AmeriCorps, a network that partners local and national nonprofits, will help lead the Fix It Café, a new addition to the event that focuses on fixing household items.

Jennifer Harman, an AmeriCorps VIP leader at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County, will help lead the station.

"It's an experiment to bring people together to fix things that might otherwise end up in the landfill," Harman said. "It's good for the environment."

Harman said the effort seems especially reflective of King's vision.

"I think Martin Luther King Jr. was an individual very much about supporting people and trying to the best with what you have," Harman said. "He believed in giving back to the community, sharing information and encouraging people."

Follow Sentinel reporter Bonnie Horgos on Twitter at Twitter.com/bhorgos

At A Glance

NATIONAL DAY OF SERVICE

Antonelli Pond Restoration Project: 9 a.m. to noon Monday at Antonelli Pond, 2360 Delaware Ave, Santa Cruz. Weed the plants that were planted in fall, pick up trash and pull non-native plants in other areas around the pond. For details, call 831-429-6116, ext. 305, lynn.overtree@landtrustsantacruz.org.
Coat, blanket and toiletries drive: 10 a.m. to noon Monday at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz, 1740 17th Ave., Live Oak. Sort through coats, warm clothes, blankets and toiletries at the center. Once sorted, items will be distributed to low-income, disabled and homeless clients of local nonprofits. To volunteer, contact Emily at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County at fovolunteer@scvolunteercenter.org
Fix-It Café: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 719 Swift St., Santa Cruz. The cafe will have volunteers from the community helping repair household items and giving demonstrations on how to refinish and repair items. To volunteer, contact Ginger Haggerty at 831-469-4663 or volunteer@habitatsc.org.
Composting Project Homeless Garden Project: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at Natural Bridges Farm, at the end of Delaware Avenue, Santa Cruz. This event will demonstrate organic composting and how to apply it to kitchen waste. To volunteer, call Kelly Mercer at 831-426-3609 or kellym@homelessgardenproject.org.
YouthSERVE MLK Project: Noon to 3 p.m. Monday at the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center, 1740 17th Ave., Live Oak. Make uplifting cards for children with cancer. To volunteer, contact Rosa DeWaard at 831-427-5066 or ys@scvolunteercenter.org.
Garden and Beautification Project: Noon to 4 p.m. Monday at Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz, 543 Center St., Santa Cruz. Spread woodchips and seeds in planter boxes, sand and paint planter boxes, help with the mosaic project that the teens Torch Club designed. To volunteer, contact Marina at the Boys & Girls Club, 831-423-3138 or volunteer@boysandgirlsclub.info.
Quail Hollow Restoration: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at Quail Hollow Ranch Park, 800 Quail Hollow Road, Felton. Hosted by the California Native Plant Society, this event aims to remove nonnative invasive French Broom. To volunteer, call Linda Brodman at 831-462-4041 or redwdrn@pacbell.net.
Prepare and serve meals: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, 150 Second St., Watsonville. To volunteer, call 831-722-4144 or director@pvloavesandfishes.org.
Evergreen Cemetery Beautification Project: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday at Evergreen Cemetery, at the end of Coral Street next to Harvey West Park. The event will include pulling weed, uncover neglected family plots, build retaining walls and a historical tour. To volunteer call Sibley at 202-903-8836 or evergreen@santacruzmah.org.
Homeless census volunteer: 6 a.m. to noon, Jan. 22. Applied Survey Research is looking for homeless census volunteers to help gather information for the Homeless Census. Training will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Felton Bible Church. To volunteer, contact John Connery at 831-728-1356 or John@appliedsurveyresearch.org.