For the ninth year, the Student Government Association at Virginia Tech will host The Big Event. On April 17, 2010, students and faculty members will get together to participate in Virginia Tech's largest day of community service.

The Big Event at Virginia Tech is a student-run effort. Every spring thousands of students, faculty, and staff come together to complete hundreds ofcommunity service projects throughout the New River Valley.

Last year, The Big Event was the second largest in the nation, with more than 5,700 volunteers and 740 projects. This year, The Big Event continues to grow. The goal is 7,000 volunteers and 1,000 projects. Registration for The Big Event closes on April 9.

The Big Event at Virginia Tech upholds the university’s motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) by conducting community service projects throughout the New River Valley. Projects are completed regardless of need or socioeconomic status. It is The Big Event’s goal to simply say thank you to a community that gives the university so much. The Big Event slogan is “One Big Day. One Big Thanks.”

On the day of the event, participants will gather on the Drillfield for the opening ceremony, check-in, tool pick-up, and T-shirt distribution. Participating groups will be assigned their tasks and corresponding job sites. Speakers and entertainment are included that morning as volunteers prepare to head into the community. In addition, The Big Event has partnered with Stop Hunger Now to provide $78,000 and 300,000 meals for Haitian relief.

This year, The Big Event Association has organized a comprehensive conference throughout the weekend for other colleges and universities interested in starting their own Big Event. On the day of Virginia Tech’s Big Event, visiting representatives from other colleges and universities will get first-hand experience, shadowing Big Event committee members and visiting job sites. That night, the visitors will also experience another Virginia Tech Big Event first: The Big Event concert. Sunday, participants will attend the conference, where executive members will explain organizing the Big Event and how to establish one on their campus.

The Big Event is completely student-run, with 90 students forming the executive committee and 110 other students volunteering their time to manage the undertaking. The year-long planning process includes countless hours of work to make The Big Event a success.

The Big Event originated at Texas A&M University in 1982 as a gesture of thanks to the surrounding community for their support of the student population throughout the academic year. In its first year, the Big Event consisted of six students cleaning a local cemetery. Over the years the Big Event gained momentum and support and the idea spread to other campuses.

The Big Event at Virginia Tech was started in 2002. During its first year, 60 jobs were completed by 475 students. The event has since seen a steady growth in both the number of jobs completed and the number of student and community volunteers.

The Big Event is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual, which not only supports the Big Event with funding, it also takes part in the jobs. Big Event jobs range from painting to yard work to trash cleanup and virtually anything else that can be completed within four hours and does not involve power tools. The Big Event serves the New River Valley, including parts of Montgomery and Giles counties. Jobs in the past have been completed in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Shawsville, Pembroke, and Pearisburg.

Written by Katie Noland. Noland, a senior from Berryville, Va.,is majoring in English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.