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Tallahassee college students volunteer at The Big Event

This article is written by Rachel Corry. It was published on fsunews.com March 25, 2018.

College students in Tallahassee volunteer their Saturday to community service for the 12th annual Big Event on March 24, 2018.   

Over 1,600 students from Florida State University, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Tallahassee Community College attended to volunteer at a variety of different service sites in the Tallahassee. This one-day event is one of the biggest turnouts in the country for volunteering and engaging with local areas and local partners.

The day started with a kickoff ceremony, social activities, breakfast, music and photo booths at the Donald Tucker Civic Center. Volunteers had the option to register individually or with a team, whether it be alongside other service fraternity organizations, club members or friends. Participants then left for their designated service sites to engage in a range of activities.

Public Relations Director Jason Randall oversees the grand public image of The Big Event in Tallahassee by managing social media, coordinating with community partners and organizing marketing tactics.

"It's all about community, gratitude and service," said Randall. "What makes The Big Event special is that it brings together this community with over 1,600 people from three different schools. Service is crucial as college students give back to the community that gives so much to us."

The Big Event aims to form lasting relationships with local nonprofits, residents and businesses by promoting service involvement to facilitate positive, sustainable change around Tallahassee.

Service sites around the three college campuses and the surrounding area offered participants a four-hour volunteer experience with no specialized skills or power tools needed. Sites included Goodwood Museum, Gretchen Everhart School, Success Academy, United Way of the Big Bend, IGrow, Boys Town North Florida, Leon County's Jackson View Park, Allegro Senior Living and multiple residences located in nearby neighborhoods.

Volunteers took part in service projects, such as painting homes and fences, landscaping, gardening, weeding, repairing sheds, cleaning up parks, mulching walking trails, assisting senior citizens, moving build materials and organizing classrooms.

One of the residence sitesfeatured opportunities for participants to employ their creativity in designing a garden bed, helping to plan landscape and choosing a paint color for the house. Vinny Franco participated in this site, making it his fourth Big Event with co-members of the FSU Epsilon Sigma Alpha service fraternity.

"It's exciting to see different parts of Tallahassee and making an impact on the community," said Franco. "I've always had a positive experience doing this."

Boys Town North Florida gave volunteers an opportunity to enhance the resources and sites that seek to provide support for children and their families around Tallahassee.

"The best part of my experience was getting to directly interact with one of the kids at the site," said FSU student Blake Antone. "She was so enthusiastic about everything we were putting together and had so much gratitude for even the smallest of things we were doing."

At Gretchen Everhart School, volunteers primarily weeded and replanted flowers at the front of the school, cleaned up around campus and organized classroom materials.

"It's cool that we all come together and help people with things they can't get done on their own," said Gina Rogers, who was volunteering with TAU Beta Sigma at FSU. "It's fun to spend time with your friends and have a lasting effect on the community after one day of rewarding service."

In the future, The Big Event team plans to continue increasing volunteer participation, create more opportunities for student leadership, and grow their presence with local partners in the future.