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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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6,500 students fill Big Event kickoff

For students in the Sports for Kids organization, the volunteer service job they completed as part of Big Event was a perfect fit for the mission of their organization.
“Our mission in Sports for Kids is to give underprivileged children the opportunity to participate in sports,” said Jenny Baker, an executive director of Sports for Kids. “Our job on Saturday was to paint Bryan’s Boys and Girls Club, a facility that SPK members visit every Friday to play or read to the children there.”
Picking out the colors that would cover the walls of the facility was no easy task, Baker said.
“We hand-picked the colors because we wanted those kids from often broken homes to have a bright, happy place to come to,” she said. “Many of the children spend more time here than they do at home, which sometimes is a very good thing.”
The children of the Boys and Girls Club will provide the finishing touches to the SPK members’ five-hour paint job by painting stenciled hand prints throughout the room.
Although Saturday brought cold winds, 6,500 students still huddled together on O.R. Simpson Drill field for the 8 a.m. kickoff of the campus-wide service project, Big Event.
“Through interacting with the kids while we were working and seeing their faces as the play room transformed, getting up at 7 and losing a Saturday definitely did not seem important anymore,” Baker said.
Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates offered the crowd encouraging words before volunteers dispersed to begin their assigned service projects.
“Service is fundamental to our existence,” Gates said. “Big Event gives students a chance to have a direct and immediate positive impact on people, making their lives better tomorrow than they were yesterday because someone cared.”
Nearly 700 jobs were completed by the variety of campus organizations and groups for residents of the Bryan-College Station area.
The Big Event Committee began preparing Saturday’s work schedule in late September with weekly meetings that became bi-weekly after Spring Break.
“Every job site has a file folder, and it is an extensive process to get all the masses of students wanting to get involved matched up with jobs,” said Michelle Bertino, director of students involvement for the Big Event committee.
The service projects strengthen the bonds between students and the residents of the Bryan-College Station community, Bertino said.
“Two worlds come together for a good cause, and a sense of real unity is felt by all on this day that will hopefully continue throughout the year,” she said.

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