michael mullady

Nearly 500 volunteers spent their afternoon helping out in San Luis Obispo County on Saturday as part of Make a Difference Day, sponsored by United Way and the Cal Poly Community Service Center.

Students and community members helped with 30 different projects ranging from helping the elderly to manual labor on local farms.

“There was a fabulous turnout this year,” said Joy Pederson, Cal Poly’s Community Service Center program coordinator. “This was one of our best years.”

Growing Grounds Farm, an eight-acre farm off Orcutt Road in San Luis Obispo, had volunteers clean up weeds and plant red cabbage and lettuce.

“All this support from the community is phenomenal,” said Phil Hill, who is primarily in charge of produce, maintenance and delivery for the farm. “It will enhance our program here at the farm substantially.”

Over 25 volunteers helped the senior residents at Jensen Terrace Homes in San Luis Obispo to prepare for its 35th anniversary celebration on Wednesday. Volunteers cleaned up the courtyard of the complex by trimming rose bushes and raking leaves.

Mary Aizaz, 94, was pleased to have kinesiology senior April Souther wash her windows, clean the countertops and cupboards and flip her mattress.

Food science and nutrition students helped host the Happy Health Hoe Down, a fair promoting healthy choices to children in Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo. The Jamba Juice Healthy Kids project sponsored the event.

The booths at the Hoe Down had titles such as “What would you pick for lunch?” and “Energy Zone” where children learned about nutrients and their impact on the body. The 50 to 60 kids in attendance also had fun blowing bubbles, getting balloon animals made by student volunteers and playing with musical instruments provided by the San Luis Obispo Symphony.

Volunteers at the Prado Day Center, a homeless shelter in San Luis Obispo, organized donated items, engaged in a general clean-up and prepared the ground in back for a future garden.

“The volunteers were very excited and dedicated,” said Dee Torres, Prado Day Center program director. “I heard nothing but good things from the clients and employees.”

The eight to 10 student volunteers brought bagels and orange juice with them to share with the shelter’s clients.

“Sharing the food with the clients really gave the impression that they cared and were there to help,” Torres said.

Projects were not just centered around people and plants, but also for pets. The Wiggle-Waggle-Walk-A-Thon was held at the Woods Humane Society off U.S. Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo. This event promoted animal adoption services and proper care of pets.

Volunteers sold raffle tickets with prizes such as gift certificates from pet groomers and bags of chew toys.

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