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Help Wanted

April 24, 1998|JOHN CANALIS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Old bicycles and young kids don't go together: Eager legs that want to go fast can't turn cranks looped with rusty chains, and loose handlebars and seats make navigating a struggle. Yet, at a 6-month-old group home in Fullerton, Star 6 Children's Foundation, abused and neglected boys ride dilapidated bikes.

"The [bikes] were in good shape, but kids are hard on things like that, like all kids are, so a couple of them got busted up," said Richard Gayton, director of the group home. Gayton asked for volunteer help. For this weekend, he wants about five dedicated folks with some technical prowess to help fix the cycles. "It's because they're so important to kids," he said.

This type of giving is expected countywide Saturday for the sixth annual Volunteer Connection day, where 19,000 people are expected to repair hiking trails chewed up by El Nino storms, paint fences in low-income neighborhoods, spruce up parks, clear beaches of trash and harvest vegetables to feed the hungry.

More than 100 events are offered for environmentally and socially conscious folks with myriad abilities and interests.

"The overall goal of the whole day is to spark an interest so they don't just do it once a year [but rather] do it regularly," said Michael Howard, executive director of Clean Slate--Costa Mesa, a volunteer group that paints over graffiti and creates murals. "Everybody's pretty busy these days, so [volunteerism] slips by. This is a time to stop and say 'Let's get involved.' "

Clean Slate will be at Kramer Middle School in Placentia on Saturday. This year, many events coincide with Earth Day beach and trail cleanups, so crowds could be larger than expected.

The Volunteer Center of Orange puts on the event, which attracted 12,000 helpers to 87 events last year. Several hundred thousand dollars' worth of work will be accomplished in one day.

Since 1992, Volunteer Connection Day--called Neighbors for Neighbors in some communities--has expanded significantly. The turnout shows that Orange County residents, though shown to be reluctant to donate money to charity, are willing to part with their time.

Organizers say the trend rejects a previous decade of self-serving efforts.

"This is not the '80s anymore, and responsibility to the community is growing," said Fran Mulvania, spokeswoman for the volunteer center. "This is the sixth year [of volunteer day], and the word and support for volunteerism is spreading."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

HOW TO PITCH IN

COUNTYWIDE

O.C. Health Care Agency, Children & Youth Services, Project Together. Sort donated clothing and personal-care items to be given to low-income children. Casey McFall, (714) 568-4943.

READ/Orange County--Orange County Public Library. Hang doorknob flyers to promote Walk to Read, a campaign to enlist communities to volunteer and become tutors. Marcia Tungate, (714) 566-3070.

Olive Crest Homes. Help spring-clean interiors and gardens of group homes in Anaheim, Orange, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, Mission Viejo and Santa Ana. Cathy Cook, (714) 543-5437.

Trails4All-Goodtime Net. Survey a trail for off-road wheelchair access. Peter Schikli, (949) 369-1638.

Veterans Charities of Orange County. Plant and landscape. John Bell, (714) 547-0615.

ANAHEIM

City of Anaheim. Remove graffiti. Richard D. LaRochelle, (714) 765-4413.

Community Alliance for the Blind/Special Olympics. Help shadow visually impaired and blind teens. Brian Freeborn, (714) 953-5757, Ext. 108.

Future Scientists and Engineers of America. Revitalize the FSEA production facility. Sheryl France-Moran, (714) 229-2224.

Oak Canyon Nature Center, Anaheim Community Services Department. Staff booths at Earth Day event. Cathy Glasgow, (714) 998-8380.

Orange County Special Olympics Track & Field. Assist athletes and students. David and Susan Barry, (714) 530-6111.

Westview Vocational Services. Prepare and paint the exterior of a five-bedroom house. Margarite Mills, (714) 635-2444.

BREA

Carbon Canyon Regional Park. Trail maintenance and restoration of natural trail. Raul Herrera, (714) 996-5252.

BUENA PARK

City of Buena Park. Plant trees, remove graffiti and paint picnic tables at four parks. Rudy Juarez, (714) 562-3844.

COSTA MESA

City of Costa Mesa. Neighborhood and park cleanup. Muriel Vilmag, (714) 754-5140.

Inner Vision Youth (IVY). Staff a booth to educate the public about recycling and promoting working with youth. Stephanie Barger, (949) 752-1688.

Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center. Support the Hug a Baby campaign by donating a diaper and attending an orientation to learn how to be a mentor to an older child. Robin Beskind, (949) 722-1107.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

City of Fountain Valley. Park cleanup. Sally Satterfield, (714) 593-4446.

FULLERTON

Boys and Girls Club-Fullerton. Painting. Sandra Denial, (714) 525-8241.

Fullerton College ChildCare Center. Plant shrubs and plants; lay steppingstones. Linda Wokurka, (714) 992-7467.

Public Facilities Department, Harbors, Beaches and Parks. Cut tall grass and weeds. Phil Shields, (714) 990-0271.

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