BIG Event is an annual day of community service that has become a tradition for Auburn students. This year, more than 2,200 students volunteered at 168 jobsites throughout the local community. Students gave back to our community in many different ways. Some pressure washed porches and painted walls. Others pulled weeds and cut down unwanted limbs. One group even braved a yard full of poison ivy just to show fellow Auburn residents how much we college students appreciate them.
But what really makes BIG Event so BIG?
The obvious “big” factor is the number of the volunteers and job sites. Thousands of students met together on the Green Space Saturday morning and then spread out all the way into downtown Opelika to get to work. Project Coordinators worked with assigned homeowner and volunteer teams to make sure the day ran smoothly and effectively. With such a wide area to organize, this day wouldn’t have been possible without their help. They organized the distribution of tools and volunteers and oversaw each job site. Anslee Palmer, a freshman Project Coordinator, reflected on her first experience with BIG Event. “Things got a little messy at times,” she admitted, “but at the end of the day, we got everything done and had fun doing it! I loved getting to see the willingness of Auburn students to give back to the community and enjoy themselves while doing it.”
BIG Event is impressive for more than its numbers and statistics, however. BIG Event makes a BIG impact on Auburn residents. As college students, we owe the Auburn-Opelika community a “thank you” for allowing us to move in and call Auburn our home too. One homeowner said, “BIG Event day is my favorite day of the year! I am so thankful that these young people aren’t ‘too cool’ for us older folk. I would have never been able to rake all these leaves by myself!” Another homeowner experienced the Auburn family spirit for the first time on Saturday. “I don’t know why you kids want to help strangers,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Y’all don’t even know me, but ever since you got here you’ve treated me like your own grandma!”. The members of the Auburn family who benefitted from a little extra help and love are one BIG reason BIG Event has become such a great tradition.
BIG Event even makes a BIG impact on us student volunteers. We all feel stressed or sleep-deprived some of the time at Auburn. We all know what it’s like to run out of spending money or time in our day. But none of us are too tired or too busy to give back to our community. Helping out for a few hours on one Saturday only adds to the great memories and experiences here at Auburn. Seeing the joy on homeowners faces and taking time to slow down and do good for someone else makes it all worth it. We have an amazing environment in which to live and learn here at Auburn. Taking the time to help others, say thank you, and relax from the stresses of school makes a BIG difference.
This year’s slogan for BIG Event was “One BIG family, One BIG difference, One BIG Event”. Everything about this student-run volunteer day is BIG. Executive Director Leanne Portera and her team worked countless hours to make this day possible. Nothing short of selflessness and compassion could drive these Auburn students to work all year planning a day all about others. BIG Event is more than just a few hours of work…and it’s a HUGE deal to our community!