Big Sunday started 17 years ago as a day of community service at Temple Israel of Hollywood then grew into a citywide (and then even wider) weekend of events. Now it has become a full month of activities that connect people across the region in helping others. Starting on May 1, 2016, Big Sunday will be hosting and/or sponsoring special events every single day during the month of May.
“For years, Big Sunday Weekend—an incredible three-day festival of helping each May—has been our signature (and largest) event,” said David Levinson, founder and executive director of the Big Sunday non-profit organization. Last year, thousands of volunteers turned out—some as individuals, others with their families, still others as part of a class, church, synagogue, mosque, business or club—to lend a hand at hundreds of different projects from San Diego to San Francisco, making Big Sunday Weekend one of the largest regional community service events in America.
“Big Sunday has organized more than 2,000 events a year that engage thousands of people…so expanding to a month makes a lot of sense,” said Levinson. “It’s really a logical progression of what we have been doing for a long time. After 17 years, we’ve simply grown too big to contain everything in one weekend.”
There are already hundreds of projects to choose from – every day during the month of May – with more being added throughout the month.
Levinson is the consummate networker and deeply believes that everyone has something they want to give. He is always looking for ways to introduce people who want to help to great causes. He explains, “our goal is to serve the people who need help,” but he’s also committed to evolving the organization to stay relevant and continue to be a vehicle for people who want to help feel connected to the community.
It’s a good feeling to help out, especially for those who have received help. Homeless people can often be seen helping out at the Big Sunday office on Melrose at Wilcox, filling food or toiletry bags, or being part of the regular volunteer group making birthday boxes on Thursdays. Big Sunday assembles items into small boxes that are given to organizations for distribution to patients and/or clients on their birthdays.
“Everyone likes to get something on their birthday,” explained Levinson.
Big Sunday is also more than events – for example, they have an “emergency fund” to help people out when they need something for an emergency…like flying someone home to visit a dying parent.
“We work with social service agencies,” said Levinson, explaining that the agencies often bring requests to Big Sunday. Its “Thank God, It’s Work” program also pays people who need temporary employment to work at social service organizations that need temporary help. And they have something called “The Big List,” which functions as a matching service for people who want to donate items and people who need items. Big Sunday has even been hired to plan service days for large employers who want to get their employees involved in community service.
“We have evolved to meet other needs and keep finding new ways to get people involved,” said Levinson. “Causes ebb and flow, but Big Sunday has no religious or political agenda, and we focus on what unites us, trying to help everyone find some way to help out that resonates with them,” he added.
Now that there is a month of Big Sundays with events everyday, for people of all ages, all over the city, one time and ongoing, visit BigSunday.org to see what resonates with you.