The University’s Environmental Club aids the community by cleaning the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Savannah Barton

On the morning of Saturday, April 7, the University of Montevallo participated in its eighth annual installment of The Big Event, the campus’s largest community service project.

At UM, over one-fifth of undergraduate students participate each year, completing between 30 and 40 community service jobs.

The day kicked off with guest speaker Dr. Jim Day, UM professor of history. Day thanked the crowd of students for their participation and quoted from Will Allen Dromgoole’s poem, “The Bridge Builder.”

This year, approximately 580 students participated. Organizations that partook in the day’s projects included members of Greek Life, the Residence Hall Association, Student Publications, UM Athletics and various other clubs.

One such group was the Environmental Science Club, or E-Club, who traveled 20 minutes to the Cahaba Wildlife Refuge. There, they joined another group with the same determination to clean the river by collecting cigars, picking up shattered glass and bullet casings, as well as articles of clothing.

Other jobs completed that Saturday include window cleaning, painting, yard work and more. Any task a Montevallo community member needed assistance with was met with vigor from student volunteers.  

After cleaning for a few hours, participants of The Big Event regrouped at Farmer Hall to enjoy food and drinks provided by Chartwells. Participants used the time to trade stories about their experience volunteering.

The Big Event got its start in 1982 when Joe Nussbaum, then vice president of SGA at Texas A&M, sought to give thanks to the University’s surrounding community in a one-day blowout of service projects. The event has since grown to become not only the largest one-day, student-run community service project in Montevallo, but in the nation.

The Big Event has spread to more than 100 schools across the country and even internationally to schools in Italy, Germany, Spain and Pakistan.