Ferris fosters philanthropy

2017 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Big Event

The 2017 Big Event had 1,250 volunteers, including members of Ferris’ You Beautiful Black Woman student organization (above), working at 250 different Big Rapids properties on everything from painting to picking up sticks. Photo by: Andrea Cordes | Torch Photographer

Big Rapids saw Ferris students grabbing ladders and rakes Saturday, April 22, as 1,250 student volunteers helped 250 houses with outdoor yard work in this year’s Big Event.

The Big Event allows students, faculty and staff to do yard maintenance and other tasks throughout Big Rapids to service the community. It is currently the largest student run philanthropic project in Michigan.

“My experience has been amazing. It’s been a really great ride. There’s so much that goes in to getting students to this point and most of it happens on the day of,” said Ferris psychology senior and the 2017 director of the Big Event Alexandra Reeds. “We’ve made a lot of internal improvements to help the event run smoother on our side, and this year we really wanted to focus on giving back to students, which is why we have a new T-shirt logo, Big Event sunglasses, the breakfast and prizes you can win. We really wanted to take our 10 year anniversary to give back to the students instead of just giving back to the community. We want people to have fun and want to do this event.”

Volunteers perform various services for residents such as washing windows, raking leaves and painting. Students are dispersed throughout the Big Rapids community to tend to houses and some go as far as Stanwood to do their jobs.

“I’ve done the Big Event for the last two years as a volunteer. I really love the idea of giving back to the community,” said Ferris criminal justice junior and the operations coordinator for the Big Event Sean Herp. “I felt like I wanted to be more involved so that’s why I do it.”

This 10-year milestone has been met with enthusiasm from volunteers.

“I’ve always loved community service. I work back home in my church and always find ways to help out, so I was drawn to this event,” said Ferris political science freshman Charnice Lagrone, a member of the You Beautiful Black Woman (YBBW) student organization. “I heard about the event from several people and of course I saw the e-mails so I got really interested with what Ferris is trying to do. I feel like it’s a good scene and I appreciate giving back.”

With fewer volunteers compared to previous years, Ferris students remain positive about the impact this service project has on the community.

“Usually, the Big Event is the second or third last weekend before the semester ends, and the way that the academic calendar ended this year with mid-semester break has made a lot of other activities fall under the same day. Next year’s academic calendar is different, so I think we can get the volunteer number back up again,” said Ferris chemistry senior Travis Hill.

In 2015, The Big Event had 1,631 volunteers that served 250 homes. Last year, more than 1,800 volunteers served 290 homes.

“We actually had to turn some houses away because we didn’t have enough volunteers, so let that be a message to students that we need more people to come out and make an impact,” Herp said.

If Ferris students are seeking more volunteer opportunities throughout campus, check out Ferris’ academic calendar and the notice boards posted outside of the Student Government Association office to receive more information.\

To see a full photo gallery from the Big Event 2017, click here!