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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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Texas A&M players watch fireworks after Texas A&M’s game against Ole Miss on Friday, April 19, 2024 at Davis Diamond. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M players watch fireworks after Texas A&M’s game against Ole Miss on Friday, April 19, 2024 at Davis Diamond. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Behind the scenes of the Big Event

A&M to host ‘largest one-day, student-run service project’ in nation
The+Big+Event+office+decorated+with+memorabilia+and+awards+on+Friday%2C+March+1%2C+2024.+%28Adriano+Espinosa%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Adriano Espinosa
The Big Event office decorated with memorabilia and awards on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Adriano Espinosa/The Battalion)

Over 10,000 Texas A&M students, faculty, staff and College Station residents volunteer each year in the Big Event. Since 1982, Big Event has been helping merge the gap between Bryan-College Station residents and A&M through a day of service including helping residents with painting, gardening and other needed services.

This year, Big Event staff members said it would be the largest yet, with over 370 internal staff coordinating around 15,000 volunteers to serve 2,300 local residents.

These 370 staff members stay busy leading up to the 42nd annual Big Event. Big Event Director and psychology senior Tara Driskill said planning the event is difficult.

Psychology senior and director of The Big Event Tara Driskill interviews in her office on Friday, March 1, 2024. (Adriano Espinosa/The Battalion) (Photo by Adriano Espinosa)

“The most challenging piece of planning and executing the Big Event is ensuring that all of the numbers line up between tools, our staff having enough staff to go to all of the residents’ homes … making sure that the number of students match the number of the needs of residents,” Driskill said.

Within the Big Event program, there are six committees where student staff members are placed. These committees all work together to plan, and Driskill said they had to coordinate seamlessly over a year to plan the city-wide event.

“It really is a year-long process,” Driskill said. “Our director is chosen every April after the Big Event is done in March. They choose their executive team, and they work through the summer to formulate a vision for what they want the Big Event to look like. We get committee and staff in September, and then we hit the ground running with accepting residents sign ups starting in late August and those close early February.

“So, from that time, we are doing job checks which is where we go to the residents’ home and get a bit more information about what their needs are … Lots of different moving parts that come together on March 23,” Driskill said.

Driskill said all students, staff, faculty and members of the community are invited to sign up for the Big Event.

“[Volunteers] will get an email the week of with a resident biography with who they are serving so they can get to know them a little bit better and are encouraged to contact them before the day of,” Driskill said.

Volunteers can expect speeches from University President Mark Welsh and football coach Mike Elko, free food and music performances at the kick-off ceremony.

“Then students will get their tools and go out and serve,” Driskill said. “What the job site looks like is two-fold. The students will do the actual tangible tasks that they can help the resident with that they are less capable of doing than able-bodied college students are, and it is also an opportunity for residents to connect with students. It is a really good opportunity for students to get outside of their college bubble.”

While conducting a check at a job site, two staff members, Driskill and finance junior Blake Guerra, asked a local resident what she would need done around her house on the Big Event day including painting and planting in her front yard.

Rachel DeLeon, a teacher at Rudder High School, said she has positive memories from previous years where students came to her house for Big Event.

“I had a group that was so fun and they were an organization themselves,” DeLeon said. “They came out and we took pictures together and they painted. It was really fun.”

DeLeon said that she looks forward to students visiting her house for the Big Event.

“I really enjoy it,” DeLeon said. “I used to work on campus at the medical school, and then I worked in the evening with the student athletes. I just really missed students and student life and college life … I just really enjoy it, but I don’t have any connection to it right now. I don’t have time to go to the games and it’s nice to be connected with Aggies.”

They met a woman while volunteering in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Driskill said, they swapped stories and formed a connection.

“We have served her every year since and I go to her house once a month and go help her with a few things,” Driskill said. “It’s maybe not the most remarkable story, but I think it is a really special story of connection that if I have that story of connection and I am one person in an organization of almost 400 people that has existed for 42 years and exists on hundreds of campuses across the nation, imagine how many stories of connection there are.”

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