Monday, April 2, 2012

A “Big” tradition in the making

It’s a big deal anytime you get more than 1,000 people joined together for a common cause. And it’s an even bigger deal when it involves volunteers who display immense pride by giving back to a town they call “home” for just a few years.

Meet The Big Event.

In its third year, Bloomsburg University’s day-long community service project has grown from 600 students to more than 1,000 volunteers who spent Saturday, March 31, collecting brush, painting, raking leaves, washing windows and porches, pulling overgrown shrubs, picking up trash and cleaning up lingering flood residue.

There are very few days when I’m more proud of our students.

It’s the student leadership commitment – the Community Government Association — that impresses me most. CGA sponsors this event each year and begins organizing the massive project months in advance. Then groups, including student athletes and Greeks, as well as individual students quickly get involved. A process like this – involving 10 percent of BU’s students working throughout the Bloomsburg area – is no small feat.

The CGA raised more than $10,000 in donations this year, including major support from Home Depot, Bloomsburg University Foundation, Lion’s Gate, Honeysuckle and Greystone Housing. I applaud the CGA’s effort and passion and the commitment of all of the students who took part.

This year brought a greater need for The Big Event as students continued ongoing flood relief efforts with a surge of extra manpower needed to get a few of the affected areas ready for spring activity. Among the groups largely represented were numerous Greek Life organizations, DASL, Frederick Douglass Living and Learning Community, HABLAS, OWLs, cheerleading, women’s basketball, wrestling, men and women’s soccer, swimming, and the football team.

Several other student groups and organizations were represented by a flow of students coming out amid the rain and chilly temperatures. There were big pockets of volunteers working along West 3rd Street, Main Street and Town Park. In all, students tackled more than 90 locations. Not only were students able to express gratitude to the town; they were able to provide great assistance to a community in need.

If this growth in impact continues, we soon may be calling it The Big Tradition rather than The Big Event.