The Big Event is one of the largest, one-day, student-run service projects in the nation where the students of colleges and universities come together to say ‘thank you’ to the residents of their college neighborhood.
A tradition started at Texas A&M University 28 years ago, the Big Event has become a national phenomenon at a number of colleges and universities throughout the United States.
For the first time, St. Francis College students are participating and partnered with the Make a Difference Club as more than 80 students travelled to different locations around Brooklyn to perform some type of community service.
About 30 students went to Most Holy Trinity-St. Mary parish, Williamsburg, where they broke into groups to clean out classrooms from the school that is now closed and abandoned, worked in the parish food pantry, and boxed up school books to donate.
The group leader, Lynette Torres, a junior at St. Francis has a special connection, since Most Holy Trinity has been her parish for several years. Her mother works in the food pantry and her father is the head of maintenance for al of the parish buildings.
“The club is made up of students from all parts of St. Francis and we are trying to come together to help out,” she said. “Most of us are from Brooklyn, so it means a lot to show Brooklyn some love and being able to help out so close to home really means a lot because of the work that has to be done.
“It’s great to start seeing progress. Being able to bring this group of people here can make a big difference and we will start to see a lot of changes.”
“The whole point was to give back and we really wanted to get together as a St. Francis community and give back to our own communities,” explained Arianna Sartzetakis, who was working on the school clean up. “It is really important to see the changes because many of us aren’t used to seeing schools in such conditions, so it is eye-opening and we are glad to help anyway we can.”
Adriannah Rodriguez was boxing books and said she was “just happy to help out and be a part of something that can help so many people.”
“The club really does do a lot and as it has grown, our presence has been seen all over,” she said. “The Big Event was promoted very well and once they reached out to us, we couldn’t wait to start.
“I am a senior so to be able to finish out my year by doing something great and helping people will be something that is important to me and will stay with me.
Sister Victoria Kamungu, S.F.M.A., who runs the food pantry at the Williamsburg parish, was thrilled to have so many young people come help her.
“I love this,” she said. “It is rare you see young people like this but I can tell they want to be here and want to help. I am so thankful for all their efforts.”