MODESTO -- Last Tuesday, adults and children remembered César Chávez in a very special way: by volunteering to clean his namesake park in downtown Modesto as part of César Chávez Community Service Day.
"I wanted to come out here and lend a hand," said Vicky Lozano, 16, who joined the cleaning efforts along with two of her friends. "He did so much for the farmworkers so I also want to do my part."
About 100 volunteers picked up garbage and removed graffiti from walls and playground equipment. Some volunteers went to senior citizens' homes in the area and pulled weeds and mowed lawns.
"It would be nice if we could do this more often, instead of once a year, but as long as we all come together for a good cause, that is all that matters," said Eloisa González, who lives near the park. She walked over with her 6-year-old daughter, Nelisa, to help and to enjoy the celebration.
"Chávez is a true hero for all of us who work in the fields, and I want my daughter to know about him," she said in Spanish.
But the all-day event was not just about work.
The festivities started with a Sí Se Puede Fundraiser Luncheon hosted by the Latino Community Roundtable at neighboring Maddux Youth Center. Funds from the luncheon will be used for next year's celebration, organizers said.
After the luncheon, the cleaning took place, along with music and free food and clothing for people in need. Community service organizations also provided information booths.
Tuesday's events were sponsored by Modesto Parks and Recreation, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Maddux Youth Center, Latino Community Roundtable, Disability Resource Agency for Independent Living, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán Club of Modesto Junior College and Anthem Blue Cross.
"Those that were present at the park on Tuesday were humbled by their own commitment," said Maggie Mejía of the Roundtable group. "All in all, the César Chávez Community Service Day was a tremendous success. There were over 1,000 people that came by, and it was great to see so many vendors (and) service providers. The entire committee is dedicated and committed, and we look forward to the 10th annual celebration next year."
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