The Big Event: 700 prepared for community service day on Saturday

By on April 7, 2010

The much-hyped extravaganza one year in the making is finally ready to make a big splash in Hamden and its surrounding areas.

With a title that is brief and vague, but certainly appropriate, “The Big Event” is officially kicking off on Saturday, April 10, ushering in a national community service affair that has now reached Quinnipiac’s campus.

The event specifically involves teams of students dedicating several hours of community service to towns around Quinnipiac through non-profit organizations. There are 53 different teams , with about 550 student volunteers participating. With groups of approximately 10 people per site, organizations that have a scarcity of workers or resources will be receiving more help than usual.

Student Government officials, Community Action Project (CAP) members, and Big Event Committee members compose 50 more students involved. In addition, 100 extra volunteers are contributing to the event by driving other students to the events, or replacing students who cannot attend the events at the last minute. With a total of 700 volunteers partaking in The Big Event, the original expectation of 500 students has already been shattered.

The Big Event is held at over 100 different colleges and universities throughout the nation.

“I attended a Student Government Conference at Texas A&M during my sophomore year,” Big Event Chairperson Jen Walts said.“Texas A&M is where the Big Event began in 1982, when a student body president decided it was time to give back to their community in a big way.  Over the past few decades, the Big Event has expanded to universities across the nation, and I have wanted to bring it to Quinnipiac University ever since I returned from the conference.”

Walts, currently Vice President of Public Relations for the Student Government Association, has spearheaded the planning of this event since April 2009. Her proposals to SGA, CAP, and the Council of Presidents garnered their support for the project and helped her create the Big Event Committee this past fall semester.

The Big Event Committee includes eight chairs who each oversee their specific department: Big Event/Finance Chair (Walts), Volunteer Recruitment (Hillary Federico), Community Outreach (Melissa Trinks), Publicity (Emily Sarnoff and Ashley-Rose Sherman), Service Learning (Katie Bourassa), Event Logistics (Andrea Carlone), and Site Logistics (Jamie Kloss). The committee itself meets every week and has been the primary outlet for planning The Big Event.

Quinnipiac’s Big Event Committee kept in contact with Virginia Tech’s Big Event Expansion Chair, Stephanie Ward, throughout the planning. (Virginia Tech is one of the universities holding The Big Event.) Ward commended the efforts of the Committee in an e-mail, saying “700 volunteers for your first event is outstanding!  We definitely didn’t have that many when we first started The Big Event here!  It sounds like you’re doing an awesome job with this event!”

“The fact that Virginia Tech is excited about our number of volunteers is amazing, and we are proud to say that registration resulted in an overwhelming turnout,” Walts said.

The organizations the students will be working with are broken up into six categories: Educational Sites, Nature Sites, Medical/Research Sites, Youth Service Sites, Elderly Service Sites, and Community Outreach.

“When all is said and done, we want Hamden and the surrounding communities to know that Quinnipiac students care,” Walts said. “Students are thankful to be a part of the community we belong to, and residents of Hamden don’t always see that side of us–especially because of some of the negative media coverage we receive.  Students involved in this event are passionate about giving back, and when provided the opportunity, they leaped at the chance to do community service.”

The Opening Ceremony will be held April 10, at 9 am on the Quad, where both Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano are set to be the opening speakers.

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