It was a big weekend at UVA. On Saturday, the same day the University celebrated the national champion men’s basketball team, hundreds of volunteers organized a day of service.
More than 200 volunteers spent the day working at one of 29 job sites as part of the fifth annual BIG Event, a one-day event sponsored by Madison House, the independent, nonprofit UVA student volunteer center.
And like the gathering at Scott Stadium, the BIG Event also was a huge success, according to participants and recipients, including UVA second-year student Julia Mitchell, who led the event’s marketing efforts.
Although University students regularly spend time on community service throughout the year, working through Madison House and other programs, the annual event brings out a concentrated group effort every spring. Started in 2015, it’s one day when students come together to express their gratitude for the surrounding community and its ongoing support. It takes months of preparation, however.
The Big Event began at Texas A&M University in 1982 when student leaders saw a need to give back to their surrounding community of Bryan-College Station. After 36 years, the BIG Event is held annually at more than 60 universities across the nation.
“Even though everyone was undoubtedly exhausted from the exciting week in Charlottesville, our volunteers worked enthusiastically to get their jobs done and done well,” Mitchell said. “We are all so lucky to have the amazing Charlottesville community, and Saturday gave everyone who participated the opportunity to show our appreciation.”
Students spread out across town to a variety of venues, where they helped spruce up yards and gardens, and helped organizations from the Belmont Arts Collaborative to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA.
“The BIG Event furthers Madison House’s goal of building partnerships with individuals and organizations throughout the area,” Madison House Executive Director Tim Freilich said. “We are proud to bring hundreds of individuals together in a day of service to build relationships and make tangible differences in the community.”