For many Emporia State students, last Saturday was a day to give back to the Emporia community. About 80 students participated in the Big Event, a community service event hosted by Associated Student Government, Community Hornets and Greek Life.
Jonathan Rivers, acting president of ASG, said there were “tons” of students to help with the project, ranging from sophomore to the graduate levels, despite several other events in Emporia that day.
“It was a good way to meet other students,” said Kayla Flanigan, community service coordinator. “It was a fun event to be involved with – we had free donuts (and) we gave away free T-shirts and water bottles. We also did a raffling for some $50 gas cards, thanks to ASG.”
The volunteers participated in different service activities including organizing clothing items at the Salvation Army, sorting recyclables at the Recycling Center, doing yard work at the William Allen White House, spray-painting storm drains and park clean up, Flanigan said.
The student volunteers were split into groups that were assigned to each activity – the biggest group had 27 people who spray-painted “no-dumping” signs beside storm drains in designated places around Emporia, Flanigan said.
“I went to the Salvation Army. In the back of the store, there is a huge room with a mountain of clothes. We did a lot of organizing for them, even though we were only there for two hours, they were really grateful we were there,” Flanigan said.
Lainie Harber, senior communications major and the coordinator of Service Corps, helped with yard work for the William Allen White House.
“The man who runs it was so appreciative and so grateful for our work, he even gave us a tour of the house for free,” Harber said.
Flanigan said preparations for the event began in early February and that the main objective was to educate students on the idea that it is easy to get involved with the community. Rivers said the Big Event helped break down the wall between the university and Emporia community.
Last year, Community Hornets conducted several surveys with the community.
“Many (community members) felt there was a big split between the university and the town,” Flanigan said. “If we could work together, it could be a stronger community.”
Harber said community service offers a chance for students to do something bigger than themselves and created a tie among the university, community and students.
“Community service offers students a lot of things, first-hand experience, resume builders and a lot benefits that come from there that you won’t know right away,” Flanigan said.
Flanigan said the student involvement in community service was better this year and she hoped it could continue to grow because “there is always a need.”