Big Event 2021 Unites Islander Students for Day of Service

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – For more than a decade, the BIG Event has solidified its legacy as one of the most cherished Islander student traditions, bringing students together each year for a special one-day community service project. While the 12th annual event was canceled amid the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, this year, Islanders completed 1,058 hours of community service on April 10 for BIG Event 2021.

“It was truly an all hands-on-deck effort this year to make this event happen and we worked so hard to streamline things and make it safe and easy for groups to participate,” Marissa Brown ’21, biomedical sciences major and BIG Event leadership coordinator said. “The BIG Event is a great opportunity for students to be engaged within their organization and the community. When you volunteer, you can make such an impact and really connect with people.”

Foregoing the traditional Saturday morning breakfast kickoff to maintain social distance, Islanders either volunteered for a morning or afternoon shift. While working at their various volunteer locations, students were encouraged to follow the university’s recommended COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Islander student Elizabeth Longo ’21, biomedical sciences major and president of the Honors Program, says while Honors student participate in the event every year, she and more than 50 of her peers could not wait to come together for a good cause after a year of hardship.  

“Service is a big part of the Honors program and the BIG Event is always one of our favorites,” Longo said. “We are incredibly grateful for all of those that planned and put in the effort to make the BIG Event happen this year. I’ve participated in three BIG Events since I began school here. I’m glad I was able to volunteer in one more BIG Event before graduation.” 

This year, approximately 324 students partnered with 16 local nonprofit organizations, including St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Habitat for Humanity, and Kids Against Hunger. While many businesses struggled through the pandemic, nonprofit organizations were also strained as the need for community resources skyrocketed during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I think so many of us have struggled through this pandemic, and this is a really great time for us to come together and connect while helping these nonprofit organization,” Longo said. “At the church, we helped repaint the walls and window frames. It was inspiring to work alongside other volunteers who cared so much about the church and the condition of the grounds. They told us the church would never have been able to afford to hire people to come out and paint and that they were very grateful for our help. “

This year’s BIG Event sponsors were Whataburger, National Society for Leadership and Success, Valerie Gibbons, and the Student Volunteer Connection.