The Big Event volunteers, students make big differences in the community

By Elizabeth Biernacki, Staff Reporter

Nearly 450 students gave back to the community and volunteered over 1,000 hours collectively for the third annual “The Big Event: A Saluki Day of Service” on Saturday.

Danielle Lorentz, the executive director of the event and a senior studying communication studies, said she has been part of The Big Event since it came to the university.

“It’s very special to me because I really want this to be a tradition that students partake in,” Lorentz said.

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The event itself is run almost entirely by students, Lorentz said. The first year was run mainly by faculty before shifting the second year to students.

“It was a huge shift from having all these faculty, all of their contacts, all of this networking that was really fluid and then it shifted to being a student lead event,” Lorentz said. “The second year it was me and two other people […] planning all of it.”

Despite the responsibilities and stress of planning an event like this, Lorentz said she believes it’s worth it to see students and community members coming and volunteering with the same goal: helping Carbondale.

“I think it’s so big just because so many members of campus come together in one day and they’re reaching towards the same goal,” Lorentz said. “It just becomes a big thing, it’s hard for it not to.”

The event gives students and community members a chance to give back to the Carbondale community by painting rooms, picking up trash, running fundraisers and more.

Students use so many of [the community’s] resources, they go out places, they buy the food, they participate in some way as a resident of this community for at least 9 months out of the year, and so we want to encourage them to give back,” Lorentz said.

In fact, many of the volunteers students are a part of on-campus RSO’s and fraternities.

“[Alpha Eta Rho] likes to volunteer on a regular basis and this seemed like a great opportunity for us to get out in the community and give back,” Olivia Vincent, a junior majoring in aviation flight and management and member of fraternity Alpha Eta Rho, said.

Michelle Garcia, a junior studying psychology and member of the Hispanic Student Council, said events like these are important because it gives students and groups the chance to give back and be able to see things you might not see at first glance.

“[The Big Event] was a student organized event so we though why not, we go to school here, we live here, so we might as well help out and do what we can,” Garcia said.

Lorentz said she would love to see people come to an event like this and realize issues within the community that need help getting fixed.

“There are needs that our community has and volunteering is important to make a difference, to find your purpose, to feel like you’re actually having an impact on where you live and what you’re a part of,” Lorentz said. “That’s the bigger message we want students to take away.”

Staff reporter Elizabeth Biernacki can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @EBiernacki_DE.

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