Local residents came together to give back to their community by participating in over 50 community service projects in Mar Vista, Del Rey and Venice during the annual Day of Service Saturday, March 15th.

Following a kickoff event at the Mar Vista Recreation Center, volunteers helped paint the Mar Vista Family Center; plant trees at the Mar Vista Gardens public housing complex and in the community garden of Mark Twain Middle School; refurbish the home of Inez Crawford; and celebrate “Norooz,” the Persian New Year, at the Iranian Muslim Association of North America’s Cultural Center.

Volunteers then returned to the Mar Vista Recreation Center for lunch, music, a community fair and athletic competitions for local youths.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent David Brewer for the event.

Villaraigosa encouraged Los Angeles residents to participate in future community service efforts in their neighborhoods.

“The spirit of service and active engagement is what builds communities in Los Angeles,” Villaraigosa said. “Improving our neighborhoods and helping others makes us proud of where we live and forms connections across the Westside and the entire city.”

Organized through a partnership between the offices of the mayor and Rosendahl, the Day of Service in Mar Vista, Venice and Del Rey provided an opportunity for nearby residents to work together on a variety of projects that benefit their neighborhoods.

The first-ever “Citywide Day of Service” for youths in October 2005 brought together more than 7,500 volunteers. The mayor then established a partnership between his office and Big Sunday in 2006, resulting in a turnout of 32,000 volunteers at service projects and clean-up sites across Los Angeles.

One year later, Big Sunday attracted more than 50,000 volunteers at over 350 projects in what was considered the largest community service effort in the nation, a spokesman for the mayor said.