6,000 Volunteers, One Community
Earlier this month, University of Oklahoma students were out and about with wheelbarrows, trash bags, and shovels ready to band together and serve their community through the 19th annual Big Event.
Big Event, OU’s official day of community service, saw more than 6,000 students, alumni, staff, and faculty members volunteer at over 200 places across the Oklahoma City metro area.
“This is a really unique event,” explained Megan Shepard, a senior business major from San Antonio, Texas, who served as the chair of the 2018 Big Event. “There’s nothing else like this that allows us to get out physically in the community, actually meeting people who support the university so well. Just giving up a few hours of your time on a Saturday to strengthen the connection between the community and university is so, so special.”
Job sites included schools, nursing homes, churches, non-profits, and other locations within a 45-mile radius from the OU campus. Members of the OU community can either sign up with a group they are involved in or as an individual.
In addition to volunteers in the Norman area, Big Event went both national and global in 2018 as 13 OU Alumni Clubs around the nation put on their own Big Event for the first time. OU’s Study Centers in Arezzo, Italy; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Puebla, Mexico; also hosted the day of community service.
“Just giving up a few hours of your time on a Saturday to strengthen the connection between the community and the university is so, so special,” Megan Shepard said.
Shannon Busick and Joseph Eid were two OU students assigned to the McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church location, where they helped the church’s United Methodist Men group pick up leaves and trash around the property.
Busick, a student in the international relations master’s program, decided to participate in Big Event during her first year in Norman after hearing such great things about the day.
“As college students we’re sometimes so focused on our classes and being busy and writing papers,” Busick said. “It’s good to get out there and help the community, be involved in the community, get that experience, and just be more active overall.”
For chemical engineering major Joseph Eid, serving on the operations staff for Big Event last year led to a role on the executive committee as a sophomore. Being from Oklahoma City, Eid felt especially driven to be involved in the day of service.
“It’s honestly an amazing experience because you’re helping your community,” Eid shared. “You’re giving back to your community, and that’s important because your community is a big part of who you are.”