On January 30, four members of our executive committee trekked 1,171 miles from Blacksburg to College Station, Texas where they participated in the One Big Day Conference at Texas A&M University. This annual conference provides an opportunity for schools to come together and discuss how each of their Big Events operate and brainstorm with each other about new ideas on how to improve their “One Big Day.” Not only did VT Big Event get to meet with directors from University of Oklahoma, Towson University, Texas State and more, we were also given the opportunity to present our Big Event process to the entire conference – we even taught them to gobble like a Hokie!

On Day 2, Austin Moon (Co-Director), Steven Vanderloo (Assistant Director), Ellie Helton (Director of Project Evaluation) and Mary D’Amico (Director of Public Relations) separately attended small round tables about topics ranging from Fundraising to Recruitment to Technology and more. We learned about new ways to set up on the day of The Big Event to decrease the size of the line on the Drillfield and allow volunteers to get to their projects quicker. In addition, learned about new ways to attract students through incentive programs. Our wonderful hosts also gave us a taste of Texas culture with real BBQ and line-dancing.

We appreciate Texas A&M for their hospitality and we can’t wait to return for One Big Day Conference 2016!

For nine months of the year, the Town of Blacksburg is filled with the bustle of Virginia Tech’s student population.

To say “thank you!” to the community that hosts them most of the year, thousands of university students take part in The Big Event, a student-run day of service rooted in Virginia Tech’s motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Registration for student volunteers and community job requests began on The Big Event’s website Monday, Jan. 19. The Big Event will take place Saturday, April 11.

United by the bond of Ut Prosim, leaders of the annual event expressed that the emphasis on service at Virginia Tech was a key reason for why they chose to attend the university.

“I knew that I had to do something to give back to this amazing place that I will forever call my home, and I quickly realized that getting involved with The Big Event was the perfect way to do that,” said Tory Cottle of Annapolis, Maryland, a senior majoring in biology and psychology in the College of Science.

Cottle is co-director for the 2015 event along with Austin Moon of Danville, Virginia, a senior majoring in biological systems engineering in the College of Engineering. Steven Vanderloo of Wilmington, Delaware, a junior majoring in business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business, is the assistant director.

Cottle shared that she has learned immeasurable lessons from working with The Big Event, including “how easy it is to become a catalyst for change within your own community.”

Moon added, “When you see how the homeowner’s faces light up when they see the work that the students have done, there is no better feeling.”

Moon was able to coordinate freshmen that he mentored through the Residential Leadership Community to serve last April. Following the event, they sought out more service opportunities and inquired about becoming part of The Big Event committee.

“Yes, The Big Event’s purpose is to say ‘thank you’ to our community, but how great that it inspires more service to spur on for the rest of the year,” said Moon. “Ut Prosim at its finest is serving only to find that you have inspired others to embrace service.”

Twenty-one students serve on the executive team, and 115 serve on committees, making The Big Event one of the largest student leadership teams on campus.

When The Big Event began in 2002, 475 volunteers worked on 60 projects. In 2014, 7,806 volunteers completed 878 projects in the community. This year, the executive team hopes to have 8,500 volunteers serving 1,000 projects.

Through years of growth, new sponsors, and the group’s recent classification as a University Chartered Student Organization, The Big Event has flourished into the second largest in the nation, just behind Texas A & M, where The Big Event was founded.

Warm Hearth Village, a retirement community in the New River Valley, will be the “target zone community” this year to help elderly individuals maintain their homes.

The impact of The Big Event on the New River Valley is evident not only in its beautification but also in the relationships built while serving the residents.

“During one of my project checks last year, one homeowner in particular stood out,” said Vanderloo. “She was a retired professor that was recently widowed, but she was so excited for the Big Event to get her yard all cleaned up and to meet the students. She had done The Big Event for a few years now and said she always gets a list of names and addresses for her volunteers to keep in touch.”

There are no socioeconomic qualifications for job requests, and university faculty and staff often take advantage of the opportunity get some help with yard work while building relationships with volunteers.

Written by Holly Paulette, Virginia Tech Division of Student Affairs

This year’s Big Event is on April 11, 2015. With the anticipation that the students of Virginia Tech may be able to say “Thank You” to as many community residents as possible, we encourage you to request a job here: https://registration.vtbigevent.org/jobrequest.

Projects are completed regardless of need or socioeconomic status; instead, it is The Big Event’s goal to simply say, “Thank you.” Seeded in our university’s motto of Ut Prosim (That I may serve) students and community members come together for a truly unparalleled experience.

Last year, The Big Event completed 878 projects with the help of 7,806 volunteers. We hope to continue the tradition of setting our goals high, and are aiming to complete 1,000 project in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and New River Valley on April 11.

Share your great experiences with The Big Event by telling your neighbors and friends about this opportunity so that we can make April 11, 2015 the most impactful “One Big Day. One Big Thanks.” to date. If you have any questions about the sign-up process, please contact bigevent@vt.edu.

We have partnered up with Fantoga (and VTPress) to offer a limited edition t-shirt with a custom designed logo special for 2015.

Help support us by purchasing one by January 4, 2015.

Shirts will be available for pickup on VT campus in early February. VTPress can also ship the shirt directly to you for an additional fee.

Order yours today using this link!

This year we’re happy to welcome 120 passionate Hokies to The Big Event Committee. These students work with our directors to help make April 11th a reality. They work on all aspects of The Big Event from day-of logistics, programming, and working directly with community members. We look forward to meeting everyone after Thanksgiving Break!