Behind the Big Event

Big Event planning committee attend national conference

Former Torch News Editor Taylor Hooper helps out by raking leaves in the community during last year’s Big Event.
Former Torch News Editor Taylor Hooper helps out by raking leaves in the community during last year’s Big Event. Ferris State Torch File Photo
The Ferris students behind the annual Big Event are in full swing with planning—so much so that this year’s director feels as if she “eats, sleeps, and breathes” the Big Event.

Amanda Jewell, healthcare systems administration senior and this year’s Big Event director, volunteers to plan the Big Event because she knows how much it impacts the residents of Big Rapids.

“They often express how much the Big Event helps them along with a heartfelt story of why they need an extra hand,” said Jewell. “It means the world to me because it often means the world to Big Rapids residents.”

Ferris’ Big Event is the largest student-run philanthropic event in Michigan, according to Jewell. The one-day service event usually serves 200-300 houses in the Big Rapids community and averages around 1,400 volunteers who complete tasks such as washing windows, planting, and raking leaves, among other things.

“I think other students should participate to show their appreciation to the Big Rapids community,” healthcare administrations junior Haley Lombda said. “Also, volunteering is an opportunity to not only help others, but to better yourself.”

A national Big Event conference was held the last weekend in January to learn strategies to improve Ferris’ Big Event. About 250 students from around the nation attended the conference at Texas A&M, which was the birthplace of the Big Event in 1982. Since then, it has spread to 110 other schools in the nation, including Ferris in 2008.

“I already liked the Big Event from being in it for two years as a volunteer, but now that I went to the conference and saw the purpose of it, it really just fired my passion for the whole event,” public relations junior Kaitlyn Patrick said.

Patrick, Lombda, and Jewell were among the five Ferris students to attend the informational conference.

“We got to talk to their director and he explained how they do their operations and we just learned how to carry on the process better and what type of promotions they do,” said Patrick.

The two-day conference exposed the Ferris representatives to the ideas of other schools in order to pick up the tools to make this year’s Big Event the most successful yet.

“The conference was a weekend I’ll never forget full of amazing hospitality and individuals,” said Jewell. “It allowed us to view other ideas and options to reflect on our event to make it the best it can be.”

Patrick said Ferris is well known among the schools that participate in the Big Event due to the fact that it’s currently the only school in Michigan where it takes place.

“Being prideful that Ferris is the only school in Michigan that does it right now really made me fall in love with it,” Patrick said.

The Big Event will be held Saturday April 18 at 9 a.m. Applications can be found on the “FSU Student Government” OrgSync page and are due by Monday, March 25 in the Student Government Office (UCB 121A).