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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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One step away
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The Big Event

Even though the morning started with cool temperatures and threatening skies, a record number of students turned out to participate in The Big Event, exceeding the set goal. In addition to the 10,401 students signed up for the event to begin with, 220 added their names to the project.
“I didn’t know that alarm clocks worked this early on a Saturday morning,” Texas A&M President Elsa Murano said in her kickoff address.
After thanking the students, Murano described her first night in the president’s house, saying that she was awakened by marching Corps members.
“It was a sweet sound,” she said, eliciting energized “whoops” from the students.
Former President George H.W. Bush followed Murano, also extending gratitude to the students.
“It really exemplifies the American spirit,” Bush said. “Thank you for making A&M a shining example of service. When you get to be 83, you can treasure that.”
Students participating in The Big Event completed more than 1,000 jobs, setting an event record.
Tiffani Neef, a graduate student, participated with her student organization, Maggies. Neef, as well as other members of Maggies and members of One Army, were dispatched to the Barnby residence in College Station to assist with minor landscaping and home maintenance.
“Letting 10,000 students take over for a day to say ‘thank you’ to the community is what has kept me coming back year after year,” Neef said. “Our family was so nice. They made us lasagna and brownies!”
Katherine Kennard’s house is known in her family as being a place to gather and to enjoy her home-cooked meals. The letter “e” in the welcome mat bordering the porch steps to the small house was worn from visiting shoes. Sun-bleached green and white lawn chairs dotted the front yard, and a single wind chime offered guests a soft melodic ring with each breeze. Students from a Central Baptist Church Bible study hoped to make the already welcoming home a standout place for family and friends by giving the house a fresh coat of paint.
“It’s just a nice thing to do. I can’t afford it, so I appreciate it a whole lot. This is something out of their time,” Kennard said. “They don’t have to be here on a Saturday. We should have more people like that.”
The places chosen for The Big Event are not based on socio-economic need, but simply chosen to say “thank you” to the Bryan-College Station community.
Murano described the spirit of service driving the day as a “bright, maroon light.”
“One Aggie with a good idea can change the world,” she said. “You are part of that.”
Also participating in Big Event was Pattie Billingsly, a senior genetics major. Billingsly, a team leader and executive on CARPOOL, was in charge of coordinating CARPOOL’s participation in The Big Event this year.
“CARPOOL has an arrangement with Big Event. Our volunteers come later in the morning, after job sites have been assigned, so we can fill the holes for people that don’t show up or go to sites that underestimated the need for people,” Billingsly said.
This year, CARPOOL had over 80 volunteers participate in The Big Event.
“Everyone showed up today, so this morning it took them a little longer than usual to place us.”
For these, as well as the thousands of other participants in The Big Event, the combination of commitment to service and commitment to the community is what kept them returning each year.
“This year, we actually could use more service sites. Everyone showed up,” she said.

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