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More Californians Are Volunteering

State, county, and most city offices are closed in honor of Cesar Chavez today. Many people make it a day of service to honor the late labor leader. More people are giving freely of their time everyday in California.

Karen Baker is the state's Secretary of Service and Volunteering, a relatively new cabinet-level post. She says Chavez Day is the perfect time to talk about service.

"I think what Cesar Chavez really believed in was a life of service," Baker says. "His whole life was a testimony to that."


She says many people take part in service projects to honor the holiday -- but volunteering happens every day in California.

Baker says roughly 7 million people volunteer in the state. And that's up 800,000 the past year. She says the increase may be driven in part by the recession.

"You do have a bit of that pool that's caused by underemployed people or unemployed people that are either interested in maintaining their skills or making a contribution or even finding something to do with their time," she says.

Baker says young people and retired baby boomers are also big into volunteering. She says Californians donated close to one billion hours of their time over the last year.