Registration open for Big Sunday

The Acorn
April 16, 2015

Registration open for Big Sunday

by Stephanie Bertholdo

If it’s springtime it must be time for Big Sunday in the Oak Park Unified School District.

Registration opened on Monday for the annual event that invites people of all ages to go to work for the common good of the community.

Organizer Toni Caruso said about 350 volunteers are needed to handle various jobs on Big Sunday: Day of Giving, from 8:30 a.m. to noon Sun., May 3.

Caruso said this year’s focus is on a general cleanup of the entire community. Brookside Elementary School has gardening projects available, and the school also needs to have some closets decluttered. Red Oak Elementary School also needs sprucing up and new plants.

The libraries and computer rooms at Medea Creek Middle School and Oak Hills Elementary School are in need of a thorough cleaning.

“All campuses will be cleared of trash, especially (Oak Park) High School,” Caruso said.

Volunteers will walk the streets of the community and along hiking trails to pick up trash.

Caruso said the Big Sunday event is a spinoff of what used to be an annual community cleanup day.

Now in its fourth year, Big Sunday volunteers have completed 170 projects in Oak Park, including the installation of pavers at Medea Creek Middle School, the removal of nonnative plants in the creek, gardening projects at every school, painting of school handball and basketball backboards and more.

Volunteers even built and installed a gate for an elderly resident and one year painted the drains for the Ventura County “Drain to the Beach” project.

Although the Big Sunday group decided not to ask businesses for donations this year, several groups offered support, including Greg Epstein of Enhanced Landscape Management, who is donating plants and trees to the district.

Kind, a healthy snack company, will donate snacks to all of the children who participate in the event, and school district vendors will once again supply breakfast for all the volunteers.

The Big Sunday organization supplies T-shirts and water.

Big Sunday is a national nonprofit that promotes the idea that everyone has the ability to help somebody else in some way, big or small. Projects are requested by residents, schools, cities, churches, charities, the military, animal shelters and other groups.

In Oak Park, organizers take requests from schools, community leaders, even residents who need a helping hand, to plan for the event, which in some communities takes place the entire first weekend in May.

Barbara Laifman, president of the OPUSD Board of Education, said the Big Sunday event falls under the board’s Community Outreach Committee.

“The mission of the committee is to more fully integrate, give back to and enrich a community that so generously supports the school district,” she said.

District Superintendent Tony Knight said the Big Sunday philosophy of giving back to the community in which you live, learn, play and work is integral to the school district’s “moral imperatives,” including the imperative that students should participate in programs that “foster character development, ethical and compassionate behavior, (and) social responsibility.”

Other district goals include helping students be a part of a global community and the integration of environmental awareness in and out of the classroom.

“We strongly encourage the participation of all of our students and their families to give back to the community,” Knight said. “This is a true life skill and something our children should learn from their school and their families. The event is really fun and very uplifting.”

For more information about participating in the Big Sunday event, visit

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[Thanksgiving Stuffing Event] “Our Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without you guys. It warms my heart and replenishes my faith to witness such kindness in action.”

- -A.Z., Los Angeles