NDSU’s largest day of service kicked off last Thursday with more than 1,000 volunteers putting in hours at various nonprofits in the Fargo-Moorhead area through NDSU’s Volunteer Network.
The Big Event, while ambiguous in title, is clear in mission: “One big day, one big thanks.”
Various time slots were available for sign up throughout the day — beginning in the morning and ending around 7 p.m. The half-day shifts and flexible scheduling options were just two of the ways event coordinators made an effort to accommodate students in order to increase numbers.
Katie Worral, one of the event’s recruitment managers, said the planning went much deeper than just standard logistics.
“All the members of the Volunteer Network helped put on The Big Event, and we each had different roles … Many, many, many hours and tons of work behind the scenes today and beforehand,” Worral said.
Worral said the managers of the operation work in committees that recruit volunteers and match them with nonprofits. A considerable amount of work goes on behind the scenes the day of the event as well. She mentioned the planning is informal in the early stages and consists more of who will take over committee roles and what can be improved upon for future events.
This year’s Big Event brought in more than 1,000 volunteers and brought assistance to more than 100 local nonprofits such as Churches United for the Homeless, Yunker Children’s Farm, Red River Zoo and many others. The Big Event has grown from having about 150-200 volunteers in 2009 when it was started, to more than 1,000 this year.
A reason behind the increase in student participation is the work that goes into promoting The Big Event. As the largest event for NDSU’s Volunteer Network, it is the recruitment committee’s duty to pull out all stops in order to spread the word.
“We have a variety of marketing techniques,” Worral said. “I was in charge of recruitment, so I did a lot of speaking at meetings.
“Otherwise, we have posters distributed on campus, mini ones left in mailboxes, (NDSU Residence Life) was contacted, stickers were on windows, Listservs. (It was) just a little bit of everything.”
NDSU’s day of service a is not unique to the campus, but rather a nationwide event.
“The Big Event is actually a national campaign; it started at Texas A&M. There were a group of students who knew they wanted to make a difference and say thank you to their community,” Worral said.
Five years ago, students from NDSU went to a conference at Texas A&M and found out about it there, Worral added.
The event provided students an opportunity for giving back.
NDSU students were not alone on Thursday. Fargo high school students involved in National Honor Society were invited to help out.
Ellie Glasner, a Fargo Davies senior, gave positive feedback toward her volunteering experience,
“It was a good event, and they let you do half days, so it was a good time period for volunteering,” Galsner said. “I did the morning session, but there was afternoon sessions so it was available for everyone to participate in some way.”
Sophomore elementary education major Ashley Hallberg also took time to volunteer during The Big Event.
“Our school advertises it a lot; that’s how I learned about it,” Hallberg said. “I wanted to get in some good volunteer hours, and it looks really good.”
Ross Larson, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said that he had volunteered for The Big Event in the past and had enough fun to come back to do it again.
“It’s NDSU’s biggest day of service, and it’s awesome,” Worral said. “It’s so wonderful to students going out and giving back to their community. People are taking time out of their day to give back.”
While the impact of Thursday’s event is still being felt, the Volunteer Network is already at work planning next year’s event, Worral said.