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UM Big Event triples last year's number of volunteers


This upcoming weekend, thousands of students will take to the streets of Oxford and Lafayette County to give back to the community that has taken them in.

The University of Mississippi Big Event, the largest community service project in the history of the university with more than 3,000 volunteers, will take place March 31. 

The purpose of the event is to dedicate a day of service to the community. Students from any Ole Miss campus can participate. 

“We want to say ‘thank you’ to the Oxford and Lafayette area,” said Cortez Moss, event director and public policy leadership senior. “We also want to build positive relationships between students and the Oxford community.”

The tradition of a community service day started in 2003 with the UMSFusion event. Later, the idea of the biggest volunteering project in Oxford appeared as a response to Texas A&M’s Big Event. After visiting College Station, Texas, in 2010, leaders of the Associated Student Body and the Office of the Dean of Students decided to take community service in Oxford to the next level. More than 100 people are helping organize this community service project.

“There will be different types of volunteering, for example, yard work, painting, cleaning,” said Melinda Pullen Carlson, associate dean of students. “(The) UM Big Event benefits Oxford community in different ways. Primarily it gives (students) an opportunity to serve and fill the needs of community.”

One of the most important things is that students themselves are organizing the event.

“There are 16 of us in the main staff, and we are trying to deal with everything by ourselves,” Moss said. “We deal with publicity, recruiting, transportation and many other tasks.”

This is not the first event of its kind in Oxford. The initiative started last year and more than 1,200 students participated. 

“It was a great experience,” said Lauren Sun, who is responsible for project recruitment this year. “The weather didn’t let us do all that we planned, but everything we managed to do was really good.” 

Though registration for this year’s event has already ended, students should be sure to be involved next year.

For those who registered, the event will start in the Tad Smith Coliseum between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Breakfast will be served before the departure, lunch will be served during the day and every participant will get a T-shirt. After taking a group picture, participants will drive to their project sights. Volunteers will work for about five hours.

“Volunteerism and service is priceless,” said Valerie Ross, assistant dean of students, who is helping out with the event. “The lives of many people, both students and local residents, will be enhanced. The student project will strengthen present community relationships and build new ones with the members of our community through the hard work and service the students will perform for local residents, churches, organizations and businesses.”