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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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19,000 A&M students participate in annual community service initiative

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Big Event volunteers head to their site with the tools provided to them.

On Saturday, thousands of students gathered in front of Kyle Field to kickoff the largest one-day, student-run service project in the nation­ — The Big Event.
Founded in 1982, The Big Event has helped thousands in the Bryan-College Station community and has inspired other universities to create a Big Event of their own. This year’s Big Event in Aggieland included around 19,000 student volunteers.
Speakers at the kickoff ceremony included University President Michael Young and guest speaker John B. Zachry, Class of 1984 and CEO of Zachry Group.
“I can’t begin to tell you how exciting and uplifting it is for me to be here at the start of this very special event and this incredible display of gratitude and caring,” Zachry said. “Frankly, just to see thousands of college students awake and alert on a Saturday morning is a pretty strong signal that something unusual and amazing is about to happen. But that something amazing is about to happen at Texas A&M should come to no surprise to anyone who knows anything about this very special place.”
Reese Svetgoff, business honors senior and director of The Big Event, said he wants residents in the community to know A&M students care about them, which  he believes is something that sets Aggies apart from other schools in the nation.
“If you guys take anything away from this day, I hope you understand what one interaction can do for a resident in our community,” Svetgoff said. “Whether that is just changing their day, changing their weeks or changing their lives forever.”
Molly Murphy, business honors and management junior and outreach executive of The Big Event, said her high school hosted a spinoff event called The Big Day. This introduction to The Big Event is part of what inspired her to serve on Big Event staff for three years.
“The Big Day is why I got involved in The Big Event at A&M and is the reason why I wanted to come here,” Murphy said. “The reason I have encountered this organization and have been so challenged and impacted by it is because of how far-reaching it is, and it reached me all the way in Houston, Texas, at my high school when I was a junior.”
Murphy said The Big Event continues to be important beyond the physical services such as spreading mulch and painting homes.
“I think that ultimately when I think about The Big Event and its impact, I think about the impact of relationships,” Murphy said. “Everyone can speak to a moment and experience meeting someone that impacted their life, and I think that is the core of what the Big Event is and what it strives to achieve: build relationships and create impactful experiences.”
Betty Hanks, Class of 1969, owns the Big Top Learning Center and has invited Big Event volunteers to the daycare for the last decade to complete tasks including washing windows and pulling weeds.
“The Big Event has really been a great help to the Big Top, not only to the center but the families we serve,” Hanks said. “By the work they do, I am able to offset some of the cost of daily operations, provide more materials and pass the savings on to our families.”
Political science freshman Kylie Gregory participated in The Big Event for the first time on Saturday and said volunteering is what being an Aggie is all about.
“I think to be an Aggie is to serve others well,” Gregory said. “That’s what we’re doing — we are giving back to a community that gives back to us.”

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