Big Event brings community together
Teamwork could be seen throughout the Hammond community on Saturday, Apr. 8 as numerous university students volunteered at the 7th annual Big Event.
The Big Event is one of the nation’s largest one-day, student-run services in America where university students volunteer in their college town. This year the university had over 155 students volunteer. There were over 30 organizations that participated in the Big Event such as Greek organizations, Biology Undergraduate Students and Baptist Collegiate Ministry. They helped out around the Hammond and Ponchatoula area with work ranging from household work to projects beautifying campus. Students completed these work projects to express gratitude to local residents that support the university.
Despite the Big Event being postponed two weeks due to rain, event coordinator Myranda Triche considered the Big Event a success.
“The day, overall, turned out amazing,” said Triche. “The amount of job sites that canceled just perfectly equaled the same amount of students needed at those sites. The ratio of job site to students was almost perfect. We did have to cancel one job site due to last minute cancellations with multiple teams.”
University President Dr. John L. Crain started off the event with some encouraging words and thanks to the dedicated students.
“Some of the most important things you learn in college don’t come out of a textbook or from a class,” said Crain. “They come from things like what you’re doing today, so I congratulate you for being here. You being here today and being involved in the Big Event, you’re going to spend your time and energy today making this community a better place to live for everybody in this city. I’m also proud that you’re doing it as a Lion. You’re representing the university, so thank you for that.”
Volunteers were assigned to different sites where students would participate in different projects.
At one site, the service based honor society Gamma Beta Phi washed two of the Hammond Fire Department fire trucks and offered free car washes to cars passing by the station. While most of the volunteer work was off campus, some on-campus volunteers included members of the campus organization Project PULL, a freshman success program that pairs freshman with an upperclassmen mentor. Volunteers from Project PULL planted around 20 trees on campus.
“We usually do it every year,” said Project PULL member Lele Taylor. “So, this year we decided to do it within the organization. Usually, we just do it individually and just come together, but this year we decided to do it within the organization and come out and do some community service and give back to our school, our community.”
Some students were able to help with house projects for one of the professors. Volunteers from Phi Mu sorority and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity gave a helping hand to Anthony Blakeney, an instructor for the Department of Industrial Technology teaching manufacturing courses. Scotti Dykes, a member of Phi Mu was the one who signed her chapter up to volunteer for the Big Event.
“The Big Event is always such a great thing to do every year for Phi Mu,” said Dykes. “We always look forward to it every year, and we love community service and helping others. So, it was a great opportunity for us to get out in the community and do work for everyone”.
Some of the projects done by the volunteers on Blakeney’s farm included putting mulch in his garden, removing weeds and leaves from his bulb garden, clearing way for a blueberry patch and sealing a deck that students helped to build at last year’s Big Event. Blakeney has been involved with every Big Event held by the university. He was first introduced to the program through previous campus outreach programs. Blakeney and his wife had micro premature twin boys and due to the financial strain of medical expenses some of the Greek organizations reached out to them and since that involvement, Blakeney and his family have been helped by volunteers at the past seven Big Events held.
“The whole reason I got into this was right after my children were born,” said Blakeney. “It put us in financial hardship and it also takes up a got bit of our time. My wife’s not able to come out and help me with as many of our projects as we have. So I’m usually out doing stuff alone. So whenever I can get group of students or a group of anybody to come help me I try to take advantage of it”.
This year was the biggest volunteer group Blakeney has ever had.
“I’ve had one group that was about 25 before and they said this was supposed to be 30 to 40, I’m not exactly sure because there’s so many people here,” said Blakeney.
Blakeney enjoys The Big Event because he feels it gives him an opportunity to teach students skills that he wouldn’t normally teach them in the classroom.
“It is a huge help,” said Blakeney. “The students do great work. I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve actually taught some of the guys things that they didn’t know how to do. To me it’s a lot of fun that I get to teach some of the students outside of class. I get to teach them some stuff here that they probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.”
The slogan for the Big Event was “One day, one cause, one school.”
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