Big Rapids was flooded with a sea of red T-shirts Saturday, April 16, as 1,739 student volunteers assisted 285 houses with yard work and chores in this year’s Big Event.
The ninth annual one-day service project, designed to help local Big Rapids community members, saw a higher turnout than previous years.
“Overall, I believe the event went amazing and I am so glad volunteer and resident participation has increased,” said Director of Ferris’ Big Event Kaitlyn Patrick. “I could not be more happy to be the director this year and work with such a talented, motivated and passionate team. This event, and my other philanthropic efforts, has truly given me a more knowledgeable perspective about the importance of volunteerism as a whole.”
The citywide effort drew positive criticism, and many residents were thankful of the opportunity.
“I think they’re doing awesome,” said Big Rapids resident Ralph Crew. “I appreciate what they do.”
Crew’s Cherry Street residence was aided by the hands and rakes of Ferris State’s Asian Student Organization (ASO) led by Brian Nguyen, who hails from a small town.
“Being able to give back to a small community means a lot to Ferris students and to all the RSOs,” said ASO President Nguyen, a junior in pre-pharmacy. “Big Rapids has the resources that other big towns and cities don’t.”
While the ASO and other Ferris registered student organizations (RSOs) were located close to campus in the city’s “red” zone, some teams, such as the Healthcare Management Association, spread out to the “yellow” and “blue” zones in areas of the city most Ferris students seldom see.
“If I didn’t have a car I’d be a little upset,” said Megan Cameron, a Ferris healthcare administration management junior. “We’re working together, we’re laughing, it’s a fun time.”
A resounding theme of the event was the cheerful attitudes of its participants. Many cited hard work and helping the community as inspiring forces.
“One of our organization’s missions is to help the community of Big Rapids,” said Cameron. “We obviously want to get involved in something that serves our mission. You do get to meet the homeowner and see how you’re impacting their lives.”
“It’s a good way for residences to see us helping and not just being drunk college students,” said Ferris pre-veterinary science junior Tori Burzynski. “We get a bad rep but some of us are pretty nice.”
Ferris’ Big Event was inspired by the one started at Texas A&M. Since its 2008 inception, it has become the only community service event in Michigan of its type and one of the largest nationwide, according to Director Patrick.