Step Forward Recap: Cross Country

MALIBU, Calif. – Nearly 1,500 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends gathered last Saturday (Sept. 6) to kick off Step Forward Day, Pepperdine University's 20th annual day of collective volunteer service. Dozens of campus organizations, including classes, dorms, fraternities, sororities, and clubs, assisted over 50 nonprofit organizations, schools, churches and parks throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Pepperdine athletic teams also came together to give a helping hand, while alumni chapters across the country organized 17 service projects in their own communities.


Step Forward Day began in 1988 when two Pepperdine students recognized the need for volunteers in the local community and sought to encourage service among their peers. The projects began as small acts of service from helping to repair homes of local senior citizens to planting gardens at Webster Elementary School. Today the annual event has grown not only across Southern California, but also to communities nationwide as Pepperdine alumni step forward to help.


Freshman runner Lauren Burnham (Albuquerque, N.M/Eldorado HS) gives this account of her team’s visit to Dan Blocker Beach in Malibu, Calif:


"After a long Saturday morning run, Pepperdine's cross country team might be a little tired -- but not too tired to clean up a beach afterwards. Since running at the UC Irvine Invitational the previous weekend forced us to miss the campus-wide Step Forward Day, we made it up by holding our own official community service event, picking up litter on Dan Blocker Beach. We run by the beach all the time since it's just across the Pacific Coast Highway from campus.


"This year we adopted it in cooperation with Heal the Bay, an organization based in Santa Monica that works to improve water quality and environmental health. By cleaning the beach of man-made debris and reporting what types of trash we found there, we helped keep the local environment cleaner and contributed to research that Heal the Bay conducts to better understand what else can be done to protect the earth.


"In adopting the beach, the team committed to cleaning it three times every year, and our Step Forward Day was the first of these trips. Although Dan Blocker Beach (also called Puerco Beach) is less popular for surfing or hanging out than other local beaches, it had more than its fair share of litter. Thanks to our efforts, it's now less likely that visitors to the beach will find themselves setting up a towel and umbrella next to a Big Mac box or decorating their sand castles with bottle caps!   "Not only do community service projects such as our adoption of the beach allow the team to make a positive impact on our community, they give us an opportunity for the team to spend time together bonding and developing the relationships that will lead us to ever-higher performance as competitive athletes. We not only share the goal of winning races, we also seek to make the world a better place."     



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