Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined participants at Westside service events, including a butterfly garden project with Ocean Charter and Walgrove elementary schools in Mar Vista, as part of the 12th Annual Big Sunday May 2nd.

At Ocean Charter Elementary, the mayor helped volunteers build a hummingbird and butterfly garden landscaped with California-native plants and greenery. The project will not only provide a respite of nature in an urban environment, but it will also serve as a lab for the school’s science curriculum, event organizers said.

“The best thing about the West LA Day of Service and Big Sunday is that the effects are felt long after this weekend is over,” Villaraigosa said. “People will benefit the whole year from the projects that are completed today and tomorrow.”

David Levinson, founder and executive director of Big Sunday, added, “These days, there are a lot of people working hard to divide people. I love doing Big Sunday because what we’re about, more than anything else, is bringing people together.”

Among other Westside service events was a clean-up of the former Los Angeles Fire Station No. 62 on Centinela Avenue in Mar Vista, where volunteers helped clean graffiti and trash from the property as well as performed some landscaping.

Big Sunday is considered the largest region-wide community service and community building weekend event in the United States. Its mission is to build community through service, organizers said.

Founded in Los Angeles 12 years ago by Levinson, a

Hollywood-based writer, Big Sunday has grown from 300 to over 50,000 volunteers and now stretches across Southern California.