• Paige Guerra was among the students who volunteered for The Big Event last year. More than 150 students, faculty and staff members have signed up to volunteer at this year's event, which will be held April 6.

Many students want to get involved with volunteer work but don’t know where to start. The Big Event will provide an answer to this question April 6 by giving students the opportunity to spend four hours volunteering at a wide range of organizations in the community.

The Big Event is modeled after a national day of service started by Texas A&M University nearly 30 years ago and brought to Southwestern last year by junior David Boutté.

Boutté said more than 150 students, faculty and staff members have signed up to volunteer this year at locations ranging from the Annunciation Maternity Home and a homeless shelter for women and children, to the Georgetown Animal Shelter and a garden planted by a local church.

Last year, 65 students volunteered at the event, accruing more than 240 service hours. This year, Boutté said members of the Southwestern community will give back more than 500 hours of service to the community.

“Other than homecoming, there’s not really anything that purposefully brings together students, staff, faculty and alumni, along with the community,” Boutté said. “The Big Event gives us the opportunity to do something good and to see how the rest of the school is committed to service projects and improving the surrounding community.”

Sophomore De Andre Woods-Walker is among the students who plan to participate in the event this year. “The most rewarding part for me is knowing that The Big Event will have an impact that lasts far beyond April 6, for those we serve as well as ourselves,” Woods-Walker said. “I am looking forward to the lifestyle of service that will spring forth through The Big Event.”

This year the football team, the fraternities associated with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and several sororities are requiring member participation. Thanks to the efforts of coach Joe Austin, the entire football team will work with the Georgetown Palace Theatre in painting a mural for the theatre.

“I think that giving back is pivotal,” said first-year student and football player Alex Tyson. “I’m always willing to give back to the community. There is so much we can do to help, so why not do it?”

Participants will be provided with lunch, during which President Jake B. Schrum will speak about philanthropy and the importance of giving back. Participants will also receive a t-shirt thanks to donations from the Student Philanthropy Council and the Greater Georgetown Association of Southwestern University Alumni.

An after-party hosted by the IFC and Students for Sustained Civic Engagement will feature the Ph.D.s and Ghostbunnies, as well as barbeque cooked by the fraternities.

Boutté hopes to continue growing the event in the coming years by getting more faculty, staff and students involved. He also hopes to make the after-party a communitywide event.

“It’s really great to see how enthusiastic students are about the volunteer experiences,” Boutté said. “We’re hoping that it just keeps getting bigger!”

The Big Event is sponsored by the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Allies, Kappa Delta Chi and Student Philanthropy Council. Check-in is 30 minutes prior to the shift on the lawn of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house. Anyone interested in participating may apply online at www.southwestern.edu/thebigevent. For more information, contact Boutté at boutted@southwestern.edu.

− Devin Corbitt