Big Event volunteers work despite stormy weather

The rain didn’t stop UCA students from volunteering to give back to their community. Hundreds of students gathered in Estes Stadium eager to serve at 8 a.m. on March 12 for “The Big Event.”

The Big Event is a day of service each year where UCA affiliates can help give back to the campus and Conway community. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are all encouraged to volunteer.

The Big Event originally started at Texas A&M, Program Coordinator Vicki Jou said.

Volunteers fill out a form on OrgSync and pick from the many jobs The Big Event offers.

Once a volunteer picks a job, he is put into one of dozens of groups with one or two team leaders. Depending on the job, the groups can range from 4-12 people.

Conway community members, UCA faculty and staff and non-profit organizations can fill out a job request form if they are in need of some volunteers. The forms are reviewed and chosen.

The jobs ranged from organizing a storage unit, to planting flowers, to raking leaves at a school.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but giving back to the community that gives us so much is such a rewarding experience,” sophomore Michelle Moore said.

Moore helped rake leaves at Faulkner County Day School.

The Big Event also has a committee to help make the event happen. The committee helps with things like job site check, material preparation, advertising, fundraising, looking for sponsorships and the overall behind-the-scenes work for the event, junior Teresa Rios said.

Rios was in charge of public relations and giveaways during the event.

“I decided to be a part of Big Event because I saw the opportunity for creating bonds with the people in our community and UCA students in this amazing day of giving,” Rios said.

The Big Event has an executive team which is led by the Executive Director and consists of the Operations Director, Job Recruitment Director, Programs Director and Volunteer Director.

One particular experience made Jou want to get more involved with the event, even after she graduated. Jou applied and got accepted for Program Coordinator.

“When The Big Event first came to UCA’s campus, I was simply participating because I needed community service hours. But the job I participated in was what made me want to get more involved,” Jou said.

Joe’s group had to dig and pick out daffodil buds in a huge field for three hours, she said. Joy said she could only pick out ten bulbs out of the thousands in the time she was there. The man was appreciative of the work because that was three hours work less, Jou said.

“The most rewarding part has been hearing testimonies from our campus and other campuses. Every year I hear stories from volunteers about how the event has impacted them, and I’m glad to be a part of a committee that made that happen,” Jou said.

This article originally appeared in the March 16, 2016 print edition of The Echo.

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