Over 1,000 UT students gathered on more than 50 job sites around Toledo on Saturday for the nation’s largest, student-run, annual service project, the Big Event.
Students showed their appreciation for their surrounding community by performing services for local businesses and residents.
Gabrielle Latrielle, director for The Big Event and third-year recreational therapy major, stressed the importance of community service.
“Our main purpose is one big thanks back to the community for everything they’ve done for us as students and growing professionals,” Latrielle said.
The Big Event started in 1982 at Texas A&M University as a way to give back to the community and has since spread to over 11 college campuses nationwide. This is UT's ninth year participating in the event.
Things were kicked off with musical performances and a speech from Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.
The event united UT’s student organizations including Greek life, religious groups, and multicultural organizations, providing them with an opportunity to work side by side.
An important goal of Big Event is to forge a relationship between students and their community.
Alayne Herevia, co-director of programs for Big Event and fourth-year exercise science major said service is an essential ingredient that makes up a community.
“I think service just drives people,” Herevia said. “I think it’s really nice that these people really want to do the service and really want to go make people happy.”
Travis Brege, the Big Event’s co-director of programs and fourth-year bio-chemistry major, explained service is an important method of establishing and strengthening bonds between members of a community.
“All these organizations are always compartmentalized to [their] own little roles,” Brege said. “The thing I like most about Big Event is seeing everyone on campus come together to help the community.”
This is the first time that city government also participated in Big Event and the organizers plan to strengthen their partnership with Toledo.
Latrielle understands the importance of students coming together to help those members of the community that are in most need of assistance.
“We have a couple of residents who have partnered with Big Event since the beginning… so we help them do things they can’t really do on their own and that human to human interaction makes a world of difference,” Latrielle said.