On Saturday, March 29 over 2,000 Bloomsburg University students gathered for the fifth annual Big Event at 8 a.m. at the Bloomsburg Town Park. The Big Event is a one-day community service project in which students are able to build relationships with local residents. With over 180 job sites, the students are dispersed throughout the community to different residences, parks, streets, and businesses to complete tasks such as painting, raking, weeding, and much more.
Coordinated by the Community Government Association (CGA), The Big Event is intended to express the gratitude of students by saying thank you to the local community for their continued support. CGA President Ashley Wallace said, “It’s important for students to remember that they are only a temporary resident living in a community of permanent residents. Students are reminded of that through The Big Event, they are given the opportunity to show residents just how thankful they are.”
The very first Big Event was started by Joe Nussbaum and several friends that were a part of the student government at Texas A&M in 1982. Approximately 95 universities throughout the country now host a Big Event. This year The Big Event went global with a Big Event hosted in Italy, Germany, France, and Pakistan. Nussbaum never expected the event to grow so large and described the original concept as “a way to get all the organizations on campus to come together and give back to the community.” The Big Event was never actually intended to be the name of the event. Nussbaum said, “The Big Event was just a temporary name until we could come up with something better. But as you can see, that never happened and we still call it The Big Event today.” In 2009, President Barack Obama presented Nussbaum with the Point of Light Award in recognition of The Big Event’s service to the community.
The mission of all The Big Events is to “promote campus and community unity as students come together for one day to express their gratitude for the support from the surrounding community.” Bloomsburg resident, Elise Hughes participated in her second Big Event this year. Four students arrived at Hughes’ residence equipped with rakes and ready to lend a helping hand on Saturday morning. Hughes said, “The students at The Big Event have always been wonderful. It’s a win-win for everyone. I feel good when they’re here and participants are happy they are doing something positive for the community.
Although The Big Event has more than quadrupled at Bloomsburg starting with just 460 students and 20 job sites the first year, Hughes said, “More people need to experience this. The Big Event is a wonderful way to bring everyone together.” As The Big Event continues to grow bigger and bigger each year, the Community Government Association’s goal is to continue to increase the relationship between students and local residents. Bloomsburg University’s VP of External Relations Jim Hollister said, “The Big Event is the most impactful and beneficial event that Bloomsburg University has ever seen. It is a highlight that both students and residents look forward to every year.”
Big Event coordinator Bryan Molk said, “The Big Event requires an entire year and countless hours to plan such a large event. But to see almost 20% of the student body come together for a good cause is extremely satisfying.” In just one day Bloomsburg students gave over 12,000 hours of service to the town. Molk said, “It is an awesome feeling to drive around town just hours after The Big Event and see the streets lined with hundreds of bags of leaves and garbage that students collected.” Now that this year’s event has passed, the Community Government Association is already working hard to make The Big Event 2015 a huge success.