Purdue Fort Wayne Begins Planning for Annual Student-led Service Day

Purdue University Fort Wayne is set to hold their eighth annual The BIG Event on April 13. The day-long event is intended for students and faculty to show their appreciation to the community by volunteering a few hours of their day to partake in community work.

According to Purdue University Fort Wayne, The BIG Event is the largest student-led, one-day service project in the nation. The university has set their own goal for the year of getting 1,000 volunteers signed up to participate in this year’s The BIG Event.

The university began The BIG Event in March 2012. According to Purdue University Fort Wayne, the primary focus has been to thank the over 50 local not-for-profit agencies.

You don’t have to be a current student to get signed up. Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for Student Life and Leadership, said as long as the appropriate paperwork is filled out in time, anyone in the community is welcome to participate.

“Over the years we have had staff committees and groups of students organize the event,” Price said. “As part of the plan for The BIG Event, we are working more and more each year to have students be responsible for the planning and organization of the event. This year we have volunteers, interns, student workers, alumni and staff who are all part of the planning process.”

Planning consists of finding locations for improvements and getting all the volunteers free shirts. In order to afford this kind of improvement, there are sponsors from within the community that donate money to help with expenses. Volunteers have a variety of tasks that include painting, planting plants and cleaning assigned areas.

The event not only helps show appreciation to the community. Naomi Zipay, Purdue Fort Wayne senior, said it helped her meet new people during her freshman year. Zipay has volunteered for three years since then.

“It’s extremely rewarding to just give back to the community and to do it in a way that is so direct with hands on work,” Zipay said.

“It’s so fun,” Julie Miller, organizer and active volunteer, said. “It can get messy, but it’s a good way to get outside of your head for a few hours and do some good.”

The BIG Event first began in 1982 at Texas A&M University. Joe Nussbaum, vice president of the university’s Student Government Association, created the event as a way for students to thank the surrounding community for their support.

Since the first The BIG Event in 1982, the student-led community workday has expanded to over 100 universities nationwide and according to the Student Government Resource Center, each year there still is significant growth following the event. Universities in Italy, Spain, Germany and Pakistan have even adopted the tradition.

“Signing up on the website is easy,” Price said. “Student Leader applications are available now and volunteer sign-up will be available in a few weeks. You can sign up as a group or individually.”

Application sign ups are available on www.pfw.edu/big-event and must be submitted by March 1.

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