Five years ago, the University of Montevallo began its participation in a project called The Big Event. It was a big hit, and this year featured the largest number of volunteers and job sites in its Montevallo history.
One of the largest, one-day, student-run service projects in the nation, The Big Event provides an opportunity for students from across the country to give back through volunteerism to the communities in which their campuses are located.
For the city of Montevallo and surrounding area, that meant that on Saturday, April 11, University of Montevallo students — 696 of them — converged on 57 area job sites to provide volunteer labor for everything from painting to pulling weeds, from sprucing up gardens and yards to washing windows, and providing service with a smile to people throughout the community.
“This was the largest volunteer turnout yet for The Big Event, in its fifth year at the University of Montevallo,” stated Jenny Bell, director of student life at UM. “More than 25 percent of our undergraduate student population signed up to volunteer in the community. This is an amazing testament to the students at UM and their desire to do good for others,” emphasized Bell.
Participating campus organizations included Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Kappa Lambda, Alpha Lambda Delta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Tau Omega, Baptist Campus Ministry, Best Buddies, Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Freshman Forum, Housing and Residence Life, Kappa Omicron Nu, Lambda Chi Alpha, Men’s Basketball, Minority Student Union, NAfME, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Mu, Psychology Club, Residence Hall Association, Secular Student Alliance, SGA, Smith Scholarship Foundation, Softball, Spectrum, Track & Field, Upward Bound, Women’s Basketball, Women’s Golf, Women’s Soccer and Zeta Phi Beta.
“Imagine my surprise when the entire UM Women’s Basketball Team arrived at my house Saturday morning to trim shrubs and wash windows for me,” exclaimed Mary Horton, a University employee and long-time resident of Montevallo. “Afterward, we enjoyed fresh-squeezed lemonade, homemade orange cake, and cookies. The highlight of the morning was having them play the piano and dance in the living room. What a fun bunch! Really appreciative of all they did.”
The project, which is organized by UM’s Student Government Association, goes hand-in-hand with the University’s mission of preparing its students for meaningful employment and responsible, informed citizenship. In recent years, the University has fostered an increased emphasis on Service Learning as a curriculum component.