Today: Apr 14, 2024

‘The Big Event’ helps local community

Monica Szakacs — News Editor
Duaah Galal , president of the Muslim Student Association in front of Harley Gaafar, member of MSA, painting
during the Big Event.

Monica SzakacsNews Editor

Clouds and rain did not stop 17 organizations on campus from coming together to help neighborhood agencies clean and paint, amongst other activities, during the fifth annual Big Event on Saturday, March 31.

“I think students should be involved in the local community,” said Stefan Keller, who was this years Big Event chairperson. “The hope is to encourage students to volunteer on their own. The spirit of the day is: hopefully it won’t stop here.”

The Big Event, SCSU’s largest day of spring service, is organized by the Service Team, which is a commission of the Student Government Association, for the past two years. Prior, SGA was in charge of the Big Event for three years.

This year there were more than 20 local agencies, more than past records, that the Southern volunteers were able to work with. About 350 students participated. Since the weather for Saturday forecasted scattered rain showers, some parks and outdoor agencies rescheduled with Southern volunteer teams for Sunday, April 1.

“[Service Team] contacts different campus organizations and tell them the Big Event draws closer and they either find their own sites, or we match them with a site depending on what they want to do in regards to volunteer work,” Keller said adding individuals may sign up as well.

Monica Szakacs — News Editor
Members of the MSA repainted the dining room
of the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven.

Keller estimated that about 20 individuals signed up in advance to volunteer at different site locations. The Service Team encourages individuals to always register prior to the event day, but anyone can walk in the day of and participate. Campus clubs and organizations must sign up in advance, according to Keller.

Some campus organizations that participated Saturday included: Muslim Student Association, Habitat for Humanity, Rugby team, Dance team, various resident halls, PROCON, American Marketing and various Greek Life organizations.

This year, the Muslim Student Association volunteered to help repaint the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen’s dinning area, located on 311 Temple St., New Haven. The soup kitchen has been open since 1987. Last year, members of MSA enjoyed painting the New Haven Home Recovery Shelter for Women and Children that they requested to paint again. MSA has been involved with the Big Event every year since it has started.

“[MSA] is big on community service—whether it’s on or off campus—we just enjoy giving back to the community,” Duaah Galal, 20-year-old junior and president of MSA, said.

Galal, who is a elementary education and communications disorders major, said she strongly encourages everyone to volunteer because it opens the doors for people who have never given back to their neighbors and community to start.

“[MSA] does a lot in the community that we aren’t recognized for,” she said. “What [Muslims] represent, I feel is portrayed in the media differently.”

Chris Cole, executive director of AIDS Project New Haven, said the agency looks forward to the Big Event every fall and spring when volunteers from Southern and Quinnipiac University help with spring-cleaning and outdoor work, such as planting.

“We’ve been involved with these schools for I don’t know how long, but we appreciate all the help we can get,” he said. “I mean we really do appreciate all the helping hands.”

This year, due to rain, the Southern American Marketing organization had various house work tasks, such as dusting, scrubbing and vacuuming. Cole said Quinnipiac’s service day is in two weeks and their volunteers will do outdoor work if the weather is suitable. AIDS Project New Haven is located on 1302 Chapel St.

Julie Dacon, 19-year-old sophomore American Marketing member, said she is from a small town where volunteer opportunities are limited.

“I’ve volunteered at soup kitchens before, but my town doesn’t have as many local agencies as New Haven does to volunteer at this kind of magnitude,” Dacon said. “I definitely wanted to take this opportunity to be more involved; it just makes me feel good.”

Some other agencies that Southern volunteers helped on Saturday included: Lighthouse Point Park cleanup, New Haven Home recovery, Ronald McDonald House, Music Haven and the YMCA.

SGA attends a conference at Texas A&M University every year. According to Keller, Southern got the idea to host the Big Event from Texas A&M a little over five years ago, because they have been successful with the program for about 25 years.

The event is funded through SGA, and Keller estimates about $6,000 goes into the Big Event—vans were rented and breakfast, lunches and beverages were provided as well as T-shirts.

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