'Big Event' will bring SUNY Cortland students into community

Don’t be surprised to see many SUNY Cortland students as well as community members rolling outdoor paintbrushes, carrying trash bags and plying rakes and garden tools to improve the Cortland community on Sunday, April 24.

Organizers of the second annual Big Event are calling for students, faculty and community members to donate their time and energy for service on Sunday, April 24, at SUNY Cortland.

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Recruiters for this year’s activities will sign up volunteers at tables located in the Student Life Center from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, through Thursday, March 10, and from Monday, March 21, through Wednesday, March 23.

Sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and its club Actively Involved in the Community (AIC), the Big Event seeks to give back to the community and help local organizations on the one-day volunteer project. Volunteers are asked to give four hours of their time that day.

Allison Garver, a senior exercise science major at the College, is directing this year’s Big Event. Last year, she worked alongside previous director Ashlee Prewitt ’14 as engagement executive for the event.

Garver is excited to build on last year’s success.

“It’s really about giving back to the community, and having the community see the college students in a more positive light,” Garver said.

The day of service is built on the concept of strength in numbers, to be held on the same day as the Cortland Downtown Partnership’s annual community clean-up.

On March 15, Garver will share plans for this year’s event with the Cortland City Council and other community members.

Last year, approximately 400 volunteers took part in the event. This year, Garver hopes to sign up 500 willing helpers. Likewise, she would like to see the number of assigned volunteer locations increase from 50 to 100 sites.

Volunteers are asked to submit project site request forms by Sunday, March 20, and to register for the event by Sunday, March 27. Any individual person or organization can make a request. Organizers do not consider the socioeconomic need of individuals or groups who request the service. Examples might include a local non-profit agency, a group home for people with disabilities or an elderly couple in need of extra hands for a few hours.

The SGA funding that supports the Big Event will be used to purchase supplies and equipment. Garver encourages donations from outside sources to this year’s project.

Breakfast and t-shirts will be provided to volunteers, who are asked to provide their own transportation this year. Helpers without transportation access will be assigned projects within walking distance.

On the big day, check-in will begin and volunteers will be given their job service assignments at 8 a.m. in the Corey Union Function Room. A short kick-off ceremony will follow at 9 a.m.

Texas A&M University cultivated the concept of the Big Event more than 30 years ago. Although there’s no national organization or governing body for the Big Event, dozens of colleges and universities across the nation have followed through with similar days of service.

“Hopefully this event will be bigger and better than last year,” Garver says. “I’m looking forward to the outcome.”

Monetary gifts, supplies and food for the event are greatly appreciated. For more information or to make a donation, contact Garver or[email protected]. Stay current with the Big Event on Facebook and on Twitter @TBE_Cortland.

Prepared by SUNY Cortland public relations intern Bethany Lunden

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