University of Mississippi students donated their time and energy to the seventh annual Ole Miss Big Event Saturday, March 25. Students spent the day helping those in Oxford and Lafayette County with projects ranging from picking up trash to helping the elderly move heavy items in a house.
The Big Event, originating at Texas A&M, seeks to bring college students together with the community in which they call home. It has touched many individuals’ lives, from the recipients of the service to the volunteers.
Mary Anna Smith, 25, a returning premed student, has participated in the Big Event since its inception seven years ago. She served as group leader of this year’s Big Event. Smith sees the Big Event as proof that students give back to the Oxford-Lafayette community.
“On days like today, it’s really showing that, hey, thousands of students from Ole Miss are working hard in your community,” said Smith. “They’re giving back. They’re doing something good for you.”
Smith said volunteers can eventually lead the Big Event. “There’s a lot of ways for you to move up on different committees,” Smith said. “Even being on the executive committee [for Big Event].”
After spending the first time as a volunteer, students can apply to be group leaders, members of committees, and other logistical positions in the hierarchy of the Big Event.
Kishan Patel, 19, from Magee, offered examples about how the Big Event physically aids the community.
“I like how it allows us to affect local community members rather than just abstract community places,” said Patel. “For example, rather than working at a library, and just helping out those in the library, you are affecting individuals in the community and reaching out to them.”
This is the first time Patel has volunteered with the Big Event. Patel truly believes in the power of community service and helping others. “Service is about reaching out to people in the community and doing things hands on,” said Patel.
Jason Kent, a fifth generation Mississippian who grew up on a Lafayette County farm, said this is the second year he has gotten assistance from students participating in the Big Event.
“I wanted to do some outdoor stuff around here,” said Kent. “We were going to build a fence, but it rained this morning.”
Despite this setback, the group helped Kent with work around the house. “We decided to stay up next to the house and do some demolition to our deck,” said Kent. “We’re going to build a new roof on it.”
Kent, a former Kappa Sigma in Tennessee, sees community service as vital to the Greek community.
“Greek life, that’s their main purpose – to work with the community,” said Kent. “We’re a family ourselves, and we should be out helping the community at the same time. Philanthropy is a big part of any organization if you ask me. It helps you stay committed to the community, and the community committed to you as well.”
This Big Event group spent the day getting to know each other and the community in which they are immersed. The group provided vital community service to a family in need of assistance for the betterment of the Lafayette – Oxford – University (LOU) community.
Students looking to get involved with next year’s Big Event can sign up on my.olemiss.edu when the time arrives.