The Big Event is being held on Saturday, April 1. If you missed the last week’s signup deadline, you can head out to the Drillfield early Saturday morning and the staff will help find a place for you.  

The Big Event is a springtime staple at Virginia Tech. This year is the 21st annual Big Event. It is a day dedicated to community service — students can give back to the beautiful town of Blacksburg by completing small projects throughout the community. The goal of The Big Event is to say thank you to the residents of Blacksburg.  

The Big Event is about more than just completing a few hours of community service. “A few years ago, we stopped using the term ‘community service’ and started using the phrase ‘community engagement’ because we don’t view it as just going out and serving. We view it as interacting with the homeowners. For a lot of the homeowners, it is more about the social aspect. A lot of the people we serve have lost a loved one or don’t have children around. They haven’t interacted with people in a long time, especially if they are older. Having that social interaction with the kids really means a lot to people,” said The Big Event Co-Director Jacob French, a senior majoring in chemical engineering.  

Through The Big Event, the relationship between students and residents is strengthened. Residents get to interact with the students, and students have the chance to gain insight about the Blacksburg community. “The residents taught us a lot about living sustainably in Blacksburg. The people taught us about invasive species and gave us pizza at the end of the day,” said Megan SooHoo, a senior majoring in architecture.  

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Big Event was canceled in 2020 and 2021. This was a major setback for the organization. Volunteer numbers were down to 6,700 last year compared to the 9,000 before the pandemic.  

However, many students who have participated in the past have jumped at the chance to volunteer again. “I would, and am, doing it again this year. It is extremely rewarding and a day to help others who need it most. It is a great feeling to provide services to people who need it with the people I love,” said Kenzie Gillespie, a sophomore majoring in real estate. Gillespie volunteered last year with her sorority sisters after hearing about The Big Event through a student outreach effort.  

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On Saturday, students can expect to start the morning with a kickoff show put together by the organization. There are snacks and drinks provided by sponsors and other vendors. The kickoff show has speakers from the university, acapella groups, dance clubs, and speakers from other types of clubs. Once the Corps of Cadets’ canon goes off at about 9:30 a.m., students will gather their tools and head off to their assignments to arrive by 11 a.m. and work until about 3 p.m.

The day of community engagement has helped unite the students with the residents. It also has helped students find a sense of belonging, furthering the “This is Home” narrative of Virginia Tech. “The Big Event to me is how I found home here at Virginia Tech. I have met some of my best friends through it. It was some of the most fun I had last year,” said French.  

Written by Caroline Reed, a junior and an intern for Virginia Tech Communications and Marketing

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