Big Event Broadening Aid Amid Pandemic

Community service, virtual 5K, Jackson water crisis response highlight planned activities

Archive Photo: An Ole Miss student works at the Oxford Park Commission’s recreation center during the 2019 Big Event. To adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, volunteers will focus their efforts at this year’s event, set for March 20-21, on a limited number of project sites. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Recognizing that the ongoing pandemic and recent natural disasters have left many people in need of assistance, sponsors of the annual Big Event service project at the University of Mississippi are expanding efforts to assist.

Big Event is an annual day of service in which student volunteers work on community service projects throughout the Lafayette-Oxford-University community. In effort to help even more people, organizers are combining the annual one-day event with other opportunities – both in-person and virtual – throughout an entire week focused on service and support.

Starting Monday (March 15), a Big Event tent will be set up on the Ole Miss Student Union Plaza, where giveaways, volunteer registration and donation drives will be conducted. Throughout the week, sponsors will host a virtual 5K event.

Students can register through the ForUM website and receive a T-shirt and a superfood bowl from Frutta Bowls for completing their 5K that week. Proceeds will be used to support Big Event community projects.

In partnership with the Associated Student Body and other student organizations, Big Event also will host a collection drive for water and additional supplies to send to Jackson in response to the ongoing water crisis brought on by recent winter storms.

Led by Ole Miss student volunteers, the annual Big Event community service program will be hosted during the morning hours of Saturday (March 20) and Sunday (March 21) afternoon.

To adhere to COVID-19 safety measures, volunteers will focus their efforts this year on a limited number of eligible project sites. Those sites include, but are not limited to, schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, community centers and city/county supervised sites.

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic and campus safety measures, Big Event is unable to send volunteers to residential project sites this year,” said Haley Anderson, assistant director of leadership programming. “Our students and the organization are heartbroken that we will not be about to serve our entire community this year, but we look forward to expanding our reach in Big Event 2022.”

Archive Photo: Ole Miss students perform landscaping work at an Oxford church during the 2019 Big Event. Photo by Nicole Lacy/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Organizers anticipate a maximum of 650 volunteers completing service projects across nearly 30 LOU locations. Community partnerships include Oxford and Lafayette County schools, Oxford Film Festival, Boys and Girls Club, More Than a Meal, Oxford Community Garden and local churches.

Besides the community projects, Big Event has created on-campus service projects to give back to the campus community.

“One project is a car wash for campus essential workers who have been on the front lines to support students throughout the pandemic,” said Will Takewell, associate director for student leadership and engagement. “Additionally, the Big Event will host a project to create dog toys for surrounding animal shelters and conducting a letter-writing campaign for health care workers at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi.”

Click here to register to be a volunteer. To sign up for the 5K, visit here. For more information about the Big Event, click here.