Writer: Kristie Garcia
From raking leaves to picking up trash to painting, more than 700 New Mexico State University students helped more than 50 local organizations and businesses, including trails, parks, El Caldito Soup Kitchen and Habitat for Humanity, as part of The Big Event.
The Associated Students of NMSU – the student government association – has organized The Big Event for over 10 years. Part of a national campaign, this annual community service project matches student groups and individuals with various local non-profit organizations and businesses in an effort to beautify the city.
The NMSU Student Nursing Association joined other groups to beautify the Doña Ana Cemetery. Students with NMSU Cru helped beautify Young Park. And students with NMSU Women in STEM volunteered at the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, where they spent about three hours sweeping, mopping and bagging dog food and cat food to distribute to homeless clients.
A senior majoring in international business, Kayla Hughley is the ASNMSU Director of Community Outreach, and she was tasked with organizing the 2017 event.
“Las Crucens and NMSU students are in a unique position in that for nine months out of the year, we share the same community,” Hughley said. “The Big Event is an opportunity for NMSU students to connect with the community. It’s also a chance for people from Las Cruces to meet NMSU students.”
You would have thought there was a huge concert on the NMSU Horseshoe the morning of Saturday, April 22 as hundreds of students gathered with growing excitement on the Horseshoe at 9 a.m., but it wasn’t for a concert or the Homecoming bonfire. Instead they eagerly waited to roll up their sleeves and do some good.
The morning began with an opening ceremony that included high-energy music from the NMSU Roadrunner Revue Pep Band and a welcome address from Bernadette Montoya, NMSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Following breakfast and after receiving T-shirts, safety equipment and tools, students set out to their respective destinations around Las Cruces to make a difference.
It was not the first time NMSU student Aaron Nguyen particpated in The Big Event.
“Some groups go out and help clean up the city, and some people help paint lines on campus streets,” said Nguyen, a member of NMSU Dancers Unlimited. “Last year, members of our group had the opportunity to use this time to write letters to our veterans to show our appreciation. We also helped a local business put together care packages to help cheer up kids in need.”
Kelsey Garner with Collegiate Future Farmers of America at NMSU said her group is all about community service and giving back.
“We signed up for The Big Event to help beautify the campus and the Las Cruces community,” Garner said.
Tiffani Archuleta and others with the NMSU Student Foundation created thank you videos.
“Most students can’t really get through college without the support that our alumni give,” Archuleta said. “Donors and alumni really do help students start to develop their careers and their future here, and I’m really lucky to get to thank all of those individuals who continuously give back to NMSU after they’ve graduated.”
Hughley, a former community service volunteer at the event, said The Big Event provides an opportunity for students who are away from home to get to know people in the community better.
“Community service is super important, but this event is also a way to make NMSU students feel more at home,” she said.
The Big Event is a national event that started at Texas A&M in 1982. Hughley and others from ASNMSU recently attended a conference at Texas A&M to learn how to get more students and more community organizations involved. ASNMSU’s goal is for at least 1,000 students to participate each year.
NMSU faculty and staff members also participate in The Big Event, which is held in April each year. For agencies interested in next year’s event, visit asnmsu.nmsu.edu/tbe or firstname.lastname@example.org.