The Big Event at KU 2013
Burton Gepford moved into his house a year and a half ago. After taking two days to build a new fence with a couple of family members, he knew that the fence needed to be stained.
Gepford was one of hundreds of people who received help from students, faculty and staff volunteers of the University. About 35 volunteers helped Gepford stain his wood fence. He said that is was fun hearing everyone talk and collaborate to get a project done.
“A big thank you goes out to them because I can’t imagine getting it done by myself,” Gepford said.
KU Memorial Unions hosted its third annual Big Event on Saturday. The Big Event is a full day of service from members of the University volunteering at various sites around the community.
Participation has increased drastically since the first year of the Big Event. In 2011, about 500 volunteers completed projects at 80 job sites in Lawrence neighborhoods. Last year, 2,000 volunteers performed tasks at 200 job sites. This year had the largest participation rate so far with 3,000 volunteers at 400 job sites.
Lauren Reinhart, a senior from Kansas City, Mo., was The Big Event’s executive director this year. She said they added 30 committee members this year and pushed harder to get the word out.
“There’s no other organization like this on campus that brings all students together,” Reinhart said.
She said that you don’t have to sign up in teams and individuals can get to know others while working with the community.
“It’s unique,” Reinhart said. “There’s nothing else like it at this scale.”
Gepford used to work fore the University and has participated in several volunteer and outreach programs in the past. He said that he’s ecstatic for The Big Event because it helps the community out with projects and it’s been a great event for the University. He said that this is one of the few times he’s gotten the help because he’s usually the one giving it.
“People always feel better about giving than receiving,” Gepford said. “You look at a project that you just did and get an overall joy from it.”
Trace Bowen, a freshman from Hutchinson, helped paint a fence at one of the day’s locations. Bowen volunteered after he heard about The Big Event through one of his fraternity brothers and said he wanted to do it for the good of the cause.
“It was good seeing the person helping also and getting involved with us,” Bowen said.
A group of about 15 girls from the Chi Omega sorority helped paint a fence and wooden benches, moved dirt and picked up leaves at the Haskell Catholic Campus Center. The project took about four hours to complete>
Katie Krska, a freshman from Olathe, said it was a good grounding experience because sometimes projects like this take a while and it’s easy to underestimate the time. She said seeing how appreciative they were was rewarding because usually jobs like this take several hours.
“All of us are very thankful that someone organized something like this for us to do,” Krska said.