Bulletin News

One BIG Difference. One BIG Event


More than 500 volunteers rolled up their sleeves for last year’s Big Event, SUNY Cortland’s annual day of community-wide service.

The third-annual event takes place on Sunday, April 23. Director Fiona Hayden hopes to sign up 700 willing helpers among students, faculty and staff.

“It is more than just raking leaves or painting faces,” said Hayden, a senior inclusive special education major from Guilderland, N.Y. “Through service, we are able to connect and foster relationships between the community and the College.”

raking out the bushes
Student volunteers at a past Big Event helped a local homeowner with spring yard work.

Last year, Hayden worked alongside previous director Allison Garver as engagement executive for the event.

Sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and its club Actively Involved in the Community (AIC), the Big Event seeks to give back to the community and help local organizations on the one-day volunteer project. Volunteers are asked to give four hours of their time.

Hayden is excited to take on this role and build on last year’s success.

“The Big Event is the perfect opportunity to connect with the residents of the City of Cortland,” Hayden said. “SUNY Cortland would not be the place it is without the yearlong residents. Many of us as college students feel gratitude and this event is just one way that we can thank the City of Cortland.”

Volunteer pledges may be submitted up until the day of the event, but only those registered by April 7 will be guaranteed a free t-shirt.

Job site request forms submitted by residents and community organizations received by April 1 will receive first priority. Requests beyond this date will be considered if there are enough volunteers and resources to complete the project.

Light breakfast and t-shirts will be provided to volunteers, who are asked to provide their own transportation. Helpers without transportation access will be assigned projects within walking distance.

On the big day, check-in and job service assignments begin at 8 a.m. in the Park Center Alumni Arena. A short kick-off ceremony will follow at 9 a.m.

Organizers do not consider the socioeconomic need of individuals or groups who request the service. Examples might include a local non-profit agency, a group home for people with disabilities or an elderly couple in need of extra hands for a few hours.

The SGA funding that supports the Big Event will be used to purchase supplies and equipment. Hayden encourages donations from outside sources to this year’s project.

Recruiters for this year’s activities signed up volunteer students, faculty and community members at tables located in the Student Life Center lobby throughout March and April. Students and faculty can register by email or Facebook.

Texas A&M University developed a one-day, student-run service project in 1982 and dubbed it the Big Event. Although there’s no national organization or governing body for the Big Event, dozens of colleges and universities across the nation have followed through with similar days of service.

Monetary gifts, supplies and food for the event are greatly appreciated. For more information or to make a donation, contact Hayden or thebigeventcortland@gmail.com. Stay current with the Big Event on Facebook and on Twitter @TBE_Cortland.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jessica Haverlin