BLACKSBURG — The largest first year class in Virginia Tech history has made Blacksburg an exciting place. Organizers of The Big Event, scheduled for Saturday, April 9, hope that those numbers contribute to a Hokie Nation that breaks volunteer records and is passionate about Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

The Big Event at Virginia Tech is a student-run community service effort that has grown to be the second largest of its kind in the nation. Every spring, thousands of students, faculty, and staff come together to complete projects throughout Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and the New River Valley.

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To commemorate the 15th anniversary of The Big Event, organizers hope for 10,000 volunteers to complete 1,200 projects in the community. They’re relying on a big showing of first year students to come out and say “thank you” to the community they call home while at Virginia Tech.

When The Big Event began in 2002, 475 volunteers worked on 60 projects. It has been growing steadily since. Last year was a record-breaking year, with 8,050 volunteers completing 1,043 jobs. 

Registration for volunteers closes March 31. The organization encourages volunteers to sign up as early as possible. Volunteers can sign up as individuals or create a team to serve together.

Registration for job requests closes on March 15. Previous projects have included general yard work, painting, mulching, washing windows, cleaning, and minor repairs of residences, churches, and other community locations. Projects should last no longer than four hours and must not involve power tools. If needed, tools can be provided by The Big Event.

There are no socioeconomic qualifications for job requests, and university faculty and staff often take advantage of the opportunity to get some help around their homes while building relationships with student volunteers. 

And it’s those relationships and the satisfaction of Ut Prosim lived out that keep students coming back to serve.

Rahul Kulkarni and Steven Vanderloo are the co-directors of The Big Event this year, leading 165 students who serve on eight different committees within the organization. Both seniors, they’ve volunteered since their first year at Virginia Tech and are excited to see what’s in store for April’s event.

“When I came down to Blacksburg I didn’t know anyone, but the community — both on campus and off — made Blacksburg an inviting place for me,” said Kulkarni of Acton, Massachusetts, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering. “I felt at home when I came to campus, and we have the community to thank for that. I love the atmosphere surrounding the school. Any way I can say thank you to the people who make this such a great place to live … I’ll do it.”

“My favorite aspect of The Big Event is bringing our community together and seeing the reactions of homeowners that get a project completed,” said Vanderloo of Wilmington, Delaware, a senior majoring in business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business.

More information, including frequently asked questions, photo galleries, and upcoming fundraising events, can be found at The Big Event website.

Written by Holly Paulette

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