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Morning Sun
  • PSU gives back with BIG Event

  • Recently, Pittsburg State “tagged” all the projects at the university that had been supported by community donations. From flowerbeds to buildings, rooms to statues, each ended with a red ribbon and a prominent tag.

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  • Recently, Pittsburg State “tagged” all the projects at the university that had been supported by community donations. From flowerbeds to buildings, rooms to statues, each ended with a red ribbon and a prominent tag.
    Saturday, PSU students did the reverse, spreading throughout the community to donate something of their own back to the community — time and service.
    The BIG Event was seemingly bigger than ever at Pittsburg State on Saturday morning, visiting more than 100 work sites and teaming with new organizations to further the efforts.
    “I feel like this is a really good way to give back to the community,” said Devin Swank, construction management sophomore, while scraping paint off a window frame. “Students don’t really recognize the support the community has for the university. It’s important to give back and do something really productive with my Saturday.”
    The BIG Event was first formed at Texas A&M in 1982 as a way for that university to give back to its community, Bryan and College Station, Texas.
    Pittsburg State’s version has been going for eight years. In its first year, the local event drew 600 student volunteers. This year, the number was well more than 900 student volunteers. In addition, the BIG Event expanded into helping the Hearts and Hammers organization with volunteer labor at several locations. Hearts and Hammers leaders said the support was “tremendous.”
    “We have houses where the paint is peeling, and it looks horrible,” said Steve Robb, Hearts and Hammers co-executive director. “When we get this work done, it will look brand new. It improves the appearance of the community, and a lot of folks can’t afford the work or can’t physically do it. We’re upgrading the community for those who otherwise couldn’t do it.”
    For students like Swank, who are already in the construction management program, the day of community service may seem like a perfect activity. Not everyone is as skilled with a paintbrush or a scraper, though.
    But there were many homes, parks and gardens where students were tasked with raking leaves or pulling weeds from a garden. And that may make all the difference, said organizers.
    “Raking leaves and cleaning the gutters doesn’t necessarily make everything look better, but it helps build those relationships that are so important,” said Elle Walker, PSU BIG Event coordinator.
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