Texas A&M University students numbering 21,200 are expected to fulfill 2,800 volunteer service projects—100 more than last year—at the 35th annual Big Event on Saturday, March 25.
Beginning at 8 a.m., student volunteers are to gather at The Zone Plaza at Kyle Field for Yell Practice before they embark on a momentous day dedicated to good will and selfless service. At the blast of the Aggie Cannon, they are going to grab their tools and fan out across the Bryan/College Station community to complete thousands of volunteer projects, ranging from window washing and cleaning flowerbeds to painting houses and fixing fences.
The Big Event is a way for Texas A&M students to express their gratitude for the year-round support they receive from members of the community that surrounds them. Student leaders, including 12 executive staff members and 45 committee members, work tirelessly for an entire year to plan the extravaganza of service. A team of 300 student assistants help visit, vet and confirm the thousands of projects leading up to the big day. The work is devoted to residences and not businesses, with the exception of nursing homes and similar facilities, and adopting projects is not dependent upon socioeconomic need but rather upon the desire of students to serve all area residents.
“For many residents in our community, The Big Event is the only opportunity to interact with students over the course of the year, and we want to make this encounter as representative of our university and student body as we can,” said Dalton Harris, Texas A&M Class of 2017, and the director of The Big Event. “Through our physical acts of service, we are able to tangibly represent our Aggie core value of selfless service, as each student strives to live out these core values in their everyday lives.”
As a thoroughly entrenched tradition, The Big Event earned the Governor’s Higher Education Community Impact Award in 2015 for its power to influence Texas A&M students to continue civic engagement in their professional and personal lives wherever they lead.
The 35-year tradition was born when six Aggies volunteered to clean up a local cemetery in 1982 as a way to thank the community that welcomed them when they came to study at Texas A&M. Since its inception, especially in recent years, the affair has continued to grow in scope—in either the number of participating students or the quantity of people served, or both.
Joe Nussbaum, an Arlington resident and 1984 Texas A&M graduate, was one of those first six Aggie volunteers at the first Big Event, and he had a hand in its evolution. As a student, he was a leader in Texas A&M’s Student Government Association, along with his friend, Evan Secor, also of the Class of 1984. Another friend, Becky Bristol ’86 (now Becky Nussbaum), served as the first Big Event publicity director.
Aggies are always passionate about helping wherever they can and, once the idea of Big Event took shape, Nussbaum said other student organizations wanted in on the service project. In fact, when it came time to plan the second Big Event, there were more volunteers than there were projects, so Nussbaum and the others began hunting for additional jobs that could be done.
Already the largest one-day, student-run service project in the world, The Big Event has expanded to more than 120 other schools across the nation and to schools in Spain, Costa Rica, China, Germany, Pakistan and Italy.
The students’ mission is clearly defined by a simple statement: One big day….one big thanks…. one Big Event.
Media contact: Elena Watts, Division of Marketing & Communications, at (979) 458-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dalton Harris, The Big Event Director, at (979) 845-9618 or email@example.com
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