North Texas Daily

Student-led Big Event to benefit Denton community

Student-led Big Event to benefit Denton community

March 28
08:57 2014

Ali West // Staff Writer

UNT will host the fourth annual Big Event on Saturday, kicking off at 8:30 a.m. in the Library Mall. Volunteering is from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by an after-event celebration.

The Big Event is a UNT-wide volunteering event with students, faculty, staff and alumni teaming up with the community to aid nonprofit causes on and off campus.

Amy Simon, director of UNT’s Center for Leadership and Service, said she expects 2,500 volunteers at this year’s event.

“People volunteer all the time, and this is a great tradition that we can do as a community and really make a difference,” Simon said. “It makes a huge impact.”

This year, the Big Event coincides with Keep Denton Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup event, which involves community members in addition to UNT students, faculty and alumni working on outdoor projects. The nonprofit organizations provide supplies for volunteers and a student operations staff handles the moving parts of the event.

Business undeclared sophomore Tiarra Shaw said this is her first year to participate in the Big Event. As a part of Talons, UNT’s spirit organization, she said she will be helping to beautify the campus.

“I’m excited to see how it’s actually done because I’m a transfer student,” Shaw said. “It’s so rare that people get a chance to impact their community through service. “

Students have many reasons to participate in the Big Event, Simon said. They get involved with student organizations and are able to volunteer with their friends. Some also just want to give back.

“I hope that the Big Event is not just a one-time event,” Simon said. “I hope they get a taste of wherever they’re volunteering and decide to continue to do something.”

Social work junior Sarah Banis, who has participated in the Big Event the last three years, said she enjoys helping out the Denton community and meeting people through the Big Event.

“It’s cool that we team up with Stop Hunger Now,” Banis said. “The goal is to end world hunger within our lifetime. We packaged over 24,000 meals last year.”

As for the community organizations involved with the Big Event, Simon said she hopes they are able to get more than a few hours of help out of Saturday.

“I hope that they use this opportunity not to just do specifically whatever the projects are on Saturday, but also recruit some additional volunteers to connect with the university and to make a difference,” Simon said.

The first Big Event was in the spring of 2011. Simon said one of the biggest changes has been the size of the event, as it is larger every year.

“I think folks know to save the date and become part of the tradition,” Simon said. “We have been trying to make it bigger, more accessible and easy for folks to make this a tradition of service.”

Although Simon said the event itself stays the same, the after-event grows by the year. This year there will be food both before and after the event as well as games, henna tattoos and face painting.

The event is planned completely by students, Simon said.

“It’s an incredible leadership opportunity as well as a service opportunity,” Simon said. “I hope they gain something from it.”

The sign-up deadline of March 8 has already passed. Anyone still looking to volunteer can email leadandserve@unt.edu with the name of the group or organization, the name of the site leader and the number of volunteers that will be in that group.

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