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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Annual Big Event celebrates 20 years on the hilltop

Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views
Junior Timothee Pommier and junior Andrea Ochoa planting flowers in front of Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel.

Hilltoppers came together March 23 for the annual student-run community service day known as Big Event. Ranging from gardening to handcrafting and ordinating, volunteers had the option to serve between 11 different sites, both on and off campus. 

“It’s hard to do everything by yourself,” Student Government Association Vice President Justin Trevino said. “So, doing it as a whole community and working with other people creates a much more meaningful and bigger impact.”

Big Event kicked off with breakfast and an Opening Ceremony at 8 a.m. in the Alumni Gym before splitting the volunteers up at around 9 a.m. into their assigned group sites. 

More than 230 students, faculty and staff gathered at Big Event for the 20th anniversary.
(Courtesy of Kosuke “Matty” Matsui)

Among the various stations, seven of them were installed on campus. A wide range of outside gardening was proposed with the Campus Beautification, Students for Sustainability (SFS) Garden & Food Forest and Blunn Creek Cleanup. The volunteers planted flowers from Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel to Hunt Hall and the Seal, cleaned out the garden interior, fostered a food supply by planting seasonal fruits and vegetables, seeded, weeded, repaired lumber, built wheelbarrows and even painted birdhouses. 

“I chose The Huddle because I think there is a great need to address the issue of food insecurity,” sophomore Luis Rios said. “A lot of students face food insecurity on campus, and I think it’s just being able to do my part, help to tackle that issue.” (Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views)

One of the sites was focusing on giving a fresh look to The Huddle. Some volunteers also helped off-campus partners Austin Creative Reuse, Any Baby Can and Austin Pets Alive with organizing pieces of fabric, handcrafting popsicle puzzles for kids and making pet accessories. 

“We are making blankets, toys and bandanas for animals that are gonna be adopted,” Big Event site leader Iliana Garza said. “I think Big Event is important because it’s giving back to the community that you’re in, it’s a small way to do something for everybody.”

Four off-campus stations were offered across the city for students to serve the Austin community with organizations Sammy’s House, Central Texas Food Bank, Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve and The Trail Conservancy.

“I think that Big Event is important because it opens your eyes on volunteering and giving back,” student volunteer Alexis Hicks said. “And it’s really important to give back if you can because there are a lot of people who are struggling out there.”

According to Big Event President Laura Chappell, the main goal of this year was to highlight the real impact of service. This year’s Big Event brought together more than 230 attendees. 

“I was driving around on the golf cart, and there were so many people everywhere completing service with a smile on their face,” Chappell said.  

Alongside the students, many faculty members and staff were also engaged at Big Event. Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences Amy Concilio was one of them. 

“I feel the garden is still a bit of a hidden gem that not everybody knows about, but it’s a beautiful and peaceful place on campus,” Concilio said. “It’s great to see all these people out here and I hope that, now that they know that this exists and will come and take advantage of it and come to other work days out here – but also just know that it is here so they can come relax and enjoy the space.” (Gabrielle Caumon)

“When we are working together towards some goals to improve our campus environment or community, and we bring together students, faculty and staff, those are some of the most enriching and fulfilling kinds of projects,” Concilio said. “I think when you are working together with your hands, it leads to different types of conversations and you get to know people in a different way. Otherwise, my relationship with the students is just in a traditional classroom environment.” 

Big Event concluded at 2 p.m. with a closing ceremony in the Alumni Gym that also included a raffle for those who volunteered. 

“I’m most proud that this is a student-led and student-run service program all over the country, and particularly here at St. Edward’s,” Senior Associate Director of Campus Ministry Liza Manjarrez said. “The way in which students really take the lead, try to figure out what needs they want to meet in the community and gather their friends all together for one day, I think makes a huge difference and who we are as a community. I can do it all day long, and I do, that’s part of my job, but it makes such a difference when you see your fellow students really taking the lead in the community.”

Big Event has become a pillar tradition at St. Edward’s University for 20 years now and connects the values the Holy Cross Institute places in serving the community.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Hicks said. “Even though it is early [in the morning], it’s a great way to just do something good for someone else.”

At The Huddle station, volunteers cleaned up, repainted and reorganized the space to make it into a better environment.
“When you can gather a big group of people together, you can knock out some really big projects that you’ve been wanting, hoping and dreaming one day will be done,” Manjarrez said. “And because you have the person’s power, you can knock them out very quickly. It makes a huge impact even though everyone’s individual actions are relatively small, together we have one big action.” (Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views)
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About the Contributor
Gabrielle Caumon
Gabrielle Caumon, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Caumon is a junior from Paris, France, who is pursuing a major in the BFA Acting program and a minor in Journalism. This is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and her first as a Staff Writer. She loves writing for the Life & Arts section, and is excited to branch out and try out other genres.

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    Denise CastexMar 30, 2024 at 9:51 am

    Raising awareness to carry out actions together, great initiative. And do not forget that the earth and humanity are fragile and that they require all our attention. Love Gaby