The Big Event encourages students to give back to the community through volunteer work

Saturday was a bright and sunny Earth Day, making it the perfect weather for Arlington citizens to come outside, put on matching T-shirts and give back to the community during this year’s The Big Event.

The Big Event started at Texas A&M University in the ’80s and has since spread nationwide. It’s UTA’s largest day of community service, according to the MavOrgs website. Students, faculty, Arlington high schoolers, family members and more went to different sites to engage with and give back to the community, said Emily Ford, Student Activities graduate assistant.

Unlike fall semester’s Super Service Saturday, Ford said The Big Event expands out with more sites in more places. To her, both events are bookends to the academic year. Super Service Saturday welcomes people as part of the Maverick Stampede, and The Big Event happens near the end of the semester.

Ford said this year’s Big Event included 37 volunteer sites, 67 site leaders and 572 volunteers.

Lake Arlington

One of the more popular sites this year was Lake Arlington, Ford said. The lake had three spots they were focusing on and over 100 volunteers. They split into eight groups to clean up the water and surrounding areas.

Cindy Le, business management junior and volunteer site leader, said this was her second time volunteering at The Big Event. She said she can see herself participating in it until she graduates.

“It’s a way for me to give back to my community because I’m not from Arlington, but it’s a nice way to stay involved,” Le said. “I really enjoy community service. It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Arlington Life Shelter

Volunteers spent the day cleaning dorms for the homeless at the Arlington Life Shelter on Division Street, which smelled like chicken as they made the residents’ lunch.

Marketing sophomore Jes?s Canales participated with fellow members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

It was Canales’ first time with The Big Event, he said. Compared to previous Delta Upsilon volunteer work where he read to elementary school students and held toy drives, volunteering at a homeless shelter was a different experience for him.

“It gave me time to bond more with our members and get to know them on a more personal and deep level,” Canales said. “But it also made me feel good to get to know more of the Arlington community, to expand our connections and see where we can possibly have a future collaboration with or assist in any way they need assistance.”

Psychology sophomore Aastha Arora, president of UTA’s chapter National Latinx Psychology Society, chose to be one of the event’s leaders at the Arlington Life Shelter to have her own group of psychology students.

Arora said The Big Event is a day of service for the UTA community to come together with other people from diverse groups. “We didn’t expect to meet people from a fraternity — psychology and fraternity people mixing up together.”

UTA Compost Site

Back on west campus, behind the Environmental Health and Safety Building, volunteers collaborated to build a garden for wildlife by planting native perennial plants, a bird feeder and making mulch, groundskeeper Vanessa Galindo said.

Galindo said this was her first The Big Event, and was impressed at how many people participated to help the environment.

“Overall, seeing that other organizations were doing similar projects, it’s nice to know that more areas are being covered,” Galindo said. “It’s not just here and just these people, there is a community and a group of people out there that are willing to do this kind of work and make everything better.”

Environmental science senior Parker Jones said it’s fulfilling to contribute to different projects like this.

“A lot of times, a lot of people will have the drive to do something, but maybe there’s not a project that they can help contribute to,” Jones said. “This is a good way to get active, to make some great friends, meet people and socialize.”



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