- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2008

A national coalition of community service and volunteer organizations will host a “National Day of Action” Saturday to inspire D.C. residents to be more active in their communities.

ServiceNation, a nonpartisan campaign to expand volunteer opportunities for all Americans, expects more than 100,000 people across the nation to participate in more than 2,000 service-related events Saturday.

In the District, the group will hold an “Ignite the Fight for Service Rally” — a mass gathering of area residents to issue a call for a new era of service, at Freedom Plaza at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

Other events include a cleanup of the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens area, near the National Arboretum, as well as a Georgetown “Day of Action,” where volunteers will canvass the Mall to collect signatures for ServiceNation’s manifesto, the Declaration of Service.

“We would like service to be viewed as a core ideal of our democracy,” said spokesman Tim Zimmerman. “We want to inspire people to take action and [to] know that they can make a difference”.

ServiceNation was founded Sept. 11 at Columbia University in New York City. The project began with a forum on service and civic engagement that featured presidential nominees Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat.

On Sept. 12, the group gathered about 500 leaders from universities, foundations, businesses and politics to lay out its blueprint for addressing the country’s greatest social challenges. ServiceNation hopes that by the year 2020, 100 million citizens will volunteer time in schools, workplaces and community institutions each year, compared with 61 million today.

“ServiceNation Day of Action is all about inspiring ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and demonstrate the kind of America we could live in if we all did what we could to volunteer,” said Emily Cherniack, director of organizing at Be the Change Inc., one of four organizations that are helping coordinate the campaign.

The group’s featured event in the District is the “Ignite the Fight for Service Rally,” which aims to inspire citizens to volunteer or preform community service. The rally includes inspirational speakers, Slam Poetry (where poets read their works and are judged by audience members), testimonials, and a candle-lighting ceremony to pay tribute to community service pioneers. It will begin at 6 p.m.

At Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, volunteers will help the National Park Service with litter removal, planting, weeding, and clearing lotus leaves from the ponds.

“It’s pretty labor intensive, but its a whole lot of fun,” said Alan Spears, spokesman for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We can do in four hours what the National Park Service would normally do in two to four weeks.”

ServiceNation volunteers will also be canvassing the Mall to rally support for the group’s manifesto.

A detailed list of events and contact information for those interested in volunteering can be found at www.servicenation.org.

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