Once every spring semester, University of Mississippi students take time out of their work schedule to give back to Oxford by participating in the Big Event.
The Big Event has been a tradition for the past seven years at Ole Miss and has had more participants every year since its beginning. It gives students the opportunity to provide services for the community.
UM sophomore and forensic chemistry major Libby Li, 19, was a group leader for her assigned project at the Big Event. In her second year participating, she was impressed with the turnout of students, despite the inclement weather that day.
“This year, the Big Event was much more organized than it was last year,” said Li. “I know that rain might have discouraged some people, but they still signed up and should be proud for giving back to the community.”
Li has had prior experience in community service. “In the past, I’ve volunteered in the Boys and Girls Club, and the veterans home,” Li said. “Those are just a couple of examples of college volunteering experiences, but in the future, I aim to keep giving back and help around the community.”
Along with being impressed on the number of students who partook in the Big Event, Li encourages them to keep participating in similar events.
“I definitely encourage participation,” said Li. “Today, we kind of got rained out, but it’s good to have Ole Miss give back to the Oxford community since the people here are our neighbors.”
Li believes the Big Event provides a learning experience for the younger students. “It’s good for college-aged people who are still learning, to grow, to help give back, just for one day.”
Most importantly, Li feels active participation in community service goes beyond just helping out the town.
“I think it’s important for other people to experience some form of volunteer service at least once in their lives,” said Li. “Whether it’s participating in the Big Event or other types of community service, getting the younger students involved is a great way to set an example for future generations to make an effort and give back.”
UM senior and geological engineering major Richie Wygonik, 22, also participated in the Big Event. Wygonik is the philanthropy chairman of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He was happy with his fraternity member turnout.
“I think that this would put the fraternity in a positive light,” said Wygonik. “Since this was a very large group, the younger guys will get older and see this as an example of something to continue in the future. I feel more of the chapter members will start to become involved and see the impact it leaves on the university and the community.”
Wygonik mentioned that his prior involvement in community service motivated him to encourage many of his friends to sign up for the Big Event.
“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work growing up,” said Wygonik. “I guess my past work was almost like a calling to get out and help, and at the same time, encourage others to get involved and do some good in the community.”
However, Wygonik was disappointed that early rain forced his group to find a different project.
“My project, at first, was to rake leaves and do some outdoor work,” Wygonik said. “However, it got rained out, so we had to go to the Humane Society, which I didn’t have a problem with, I just expected more laborious tasks leading up to the day.”
Wygonik was also hopeful that, in the future, the school would have other community service projects like the Big Event that would include mass involvement from students.
“I’d like to seek for the school to have other events or projects of the same nature,” said Wygonik. “Examples would be visiting the veterans home, or visiting other churches. I’d also like to get my chapter involved as well, which also help shine an even brighter light on Greek life at Ole Miss, showing its active involvement throughout Oxford.”
Wygonik said he’d like to see more people become involved in the Big Event. “It’s been getting better each year,” he said, “and I definitely would like to encourage people to become more active in helping out Oxford. Our chapter’s involvement was a great example of this, and I think down the road, more people will see the benefits that the Big Event presents.”