April 28, 2011 12:00AM
Hundreds of Pittsburg State University students focused on cleaning up the community and helping those in need during The Big Event, Saturday. Organizers said a record number of PSU students participated in the service activity.
An annual event in which student groups head out into Pittsburg neighborhoods to help people clean up their yards, make minor home repairs, and perform odd jobs around the community, The Big Event is organized by the Student Government Association strongly supported by PSU's campus and Greek organizations.
This year, more than 700 students from about 15 campus organizations took part in The Big Event, which began with a lunch rally at the Weede Physical Education Building. The students then headed out to their assigned projects in small groups, this year hitting 115 jobs sites, which is the most ever tackled through this event. The work wrapped up around 3 p.m.
"One of the great things about PSU is that the students here do care about the community," said Emily Smith, a member of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and this year's Big Event organizer. "Our theme this year is 'Everything we do, we do it big,' and this is truly big. When you can get this many people organized to do so much good for others, I think it shows how the university and community feed off each other."
This year's event coordinated with the city's ongoing Take Charge Challenge initiative, which would provide a $100,000 grant to Pittsburg. The city is competing with multiple other communities across the state to see who can make the biggest environmental impact before the challenge deadline in September. Throughout the day Saturday, Take Charge Challenge committee members went door-to-door to hand out high-efficiency light bulbs to residents and give information on home energy audits and weatherization kits.
In addition to working with residents, students painted at the miniature golf course for the city and did volunteer work at the Southeast Kansas Humane Society.
"We've been focused on getting more student involvement, and our volunteer numbers have risen by 100 students this year," Smith said. "Their commitment to this event shows the dedication of our student leaders. We hope it's something that really helps the community."