Monday, April 9, 2012

Tradition: The Big Event

Simply put, the mission of the Texas A&M University Big Event is "One big day. One big thanks. One Big Event".

In greater detail, the Big Event - the largest one-day, student-run service project in the country - is a way for TAMU students to collectively say "thank you" to the residents and communities of Bryan and College Station for supporting them while they attend the University. Students share this message of thanks by volunteering to spend a day completing various projects like yard work, interior and exterior painting, and window washing for individuals, families, homeowners associations, nonprofit organizations, and businesses throughout Bryan and College Station.

The Big Event began in 1982 when just six Aggies volunteered to clean up a local cemetery. Throughout the last 30 years, an ever-increasing number of students have participated and projects have been completed; this year - the 30th anniversary of the Big Event - an impressive 17,500 students volunteered and together tackled more than 1,500 home, yard, and community improvement projects.

Back in January, two TAMU students dropped off a Big Event flyer and job request form at my front door.  I had previously been under the impression that Big Event volunteer projects were only completed for nonprofit and community organizations, and wasn't aware that families like mine could apply to participate.  The students at my door that day kindly explained that the purpose of the Big Event was to give back to the ENTIRE community, on a smaller scale as well as on a larger scale.  Excited about the possibility of inviting students into our home for a service project, I submitted my application the following day.

On the day of the Big Event, five enthusiastic TAMU freshman showed up on our doorstep right on time.  I was coaching Will's soccer game when they arrived, so Tom and Hallie explained the projects on the agenda and the students dug right in.  All five worked cheerfully and efficiently, conversed with us, and more-than-tolerated the presence of our children (who were mostly in their way) throughout the morning, and when the projects were completed and the students headed home, I felt like the day had been a win-win-win for everyone involved.  The students, in keeping with the mission of the Big Event, directly and indirectly said thank you to members of the community and also added participation in a nationally-recognized and respected volunteer event to their resumes.  Tom and I received help on two yard improvement projects we'd been meaning to tackle for months but simply hadn't had time to address because Tom works such long hours as a TAMU professor.  And our children - after meeting, engaging with, and witnessing the hard work and generosity of the "big kids" - were prompted to ask questions about teamwork, volunteering, and giving back to and improving our community.

Oh, and I might add a fourth "win" in there...the students were very complimentary of my peach tea and brownies. :)
I wanted to throw this one in there to show how hard
they worked/dirty they were at the end of the day. :)
I am now a huge fan of the Big Event, and plan to participate each year we live in College Station and as long as they'll accept my home as a job site. The benefits to EVERYONE involved are tremendous and long-lasting, and I feel lucky to have been a part of the Big Event 2012.

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