The theme of this year's Big Event, as written across the shirts of the student organizers, was "One Big Day. One Big Thanks. One Big Event."
But what the shirts don't mention is that not only did the Big Event take place on Saturday, but several other organizations also used the day to pick up and spruce up the city. Hearts and Hammers worked with The Big Event to do minor repairs and work on several homes around the town. Pittsburg Beautiful timed its U.S. Highway 69 Bypass cleanup on Saturday, too. Finally, the Noon Kiwanis worked on Kiwanis Park, as well.
The biggest of the community service efforts on Saturday was the Big Event. More than 800 students helped out on Saturday giving back a little bit to their community by working at roughly 130 sites across the city.
"This is the largest community service project in Southeast Kansas... The community gives so much to Pittsburg State. This is our way of saying thanks," said Jake Letner, PSU history junior and Big Event chairman.
Those projects went around the city, including to some city properties. Letner said the Pittsburg Aquatic Center was on the list for mulching and work on the landscaping.
But most of the projects were on the smaller scale, like raking leaves or scraping paint, doing landscaping or even painting. Letner said the 130 sites was the most that Pittsburg State had ever worked on through the Big Event.
But Letner said the Big Event also about the relationships made between groups at the work site, and also with the homeowners.
"Any student can take away relationships. I've met a lot of people through it. It's beautiful to meet people while doing service. When you do a good deed for people, the deed is also done unto you," he said.
Over on the U.S. Highway 69 bypass at the same time, a group of people marched along the road with a reflective vest and a bag that quickly filled with trash. Pittsburg Beautiful got help for their efforts from Mosaic, who leaders said "help every time."
"It's just what we do to make Pittsburg more beautiful. We feel this is a good way to do that. It's for a good cause," said Bill Stobart, Pittsburg Beautiful volunteer.
"It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. It's a good endeavor," said L.A. Vogel, Pittsburg Beautiful volunteer.
Hearts and Hammers also worked at a number of sites, often in conjunction with help from The Big Event. But many of the students that helped with Hearts and Hammers did so independently of the Big Event. Those students were mostly construction management students that did some exterior house work that required some construction know-how.
"We're cleaning up, doing minor repairs, and lots of painting. It depends on the condition of the house. We did an initial assessment of each house," said PSU School of Construction associate professor Brian Sandford. "It's really got a couple of purposes. First, to let the community know PSU cares about them. Another is to help people who couldn't help themselves. The other is to instill a volunteer spirit."
Some of those served on Saturday through Hearts and Hammers were over 80 years old, and likely can't do the type of maintenance that can be done in one day with a crowd of manual labor.
While those helped by Hearts and Hammers were mostly older, those helped by the Noon Kiwanis organization were mostly the younger crowd. Noon Kiwanis took the day to work on Kiwanis Park, located just south of Pittsburg State on Joplin Street.
Kiwanis volunteers spread the "kiddie cushion" over the playground, repainted a bridge and worked on a flowerbed. One of the Kiwanis volunteers noted the other common denominator between all four community service efforts.
"What's nice is it is so beautiful a day," said Peggy Snyder, Noon Kiwanis president.