How to help/be helped
Organizers of KU’s The Big Event are looking for students to volunteer to perform odd jobs in the community on March 31, and for community members to suggest jobs to perform.
To request help with a job, or to sign up to participate as a student, visit thebigeventku.com. Job request forms will be accepted through March 18.
One of the hardest parts of organizing The Big Event at Kansas University, organizers say, has been convincing community members that it’s not some sort of scam.
“There’s no catch,” Hannah Bolton, a sophomore from St. Libory, Neb., recalled telling a skeptic in a grocery store recently.
On March 31, the plan calls for hordes of KU students to go out into the Lawrence community and do a whole variety of odd jobs for residents, businesses and other organizations. And they really don’t expect anything in return.
Truly, anyone can apply to have something painted, cleaned or planted (there’s a whole list of available jobs online at thebigeventku.com), regardless of socio-economic status.
It’s called The Big Event, and it’s styled after a similar event at Texas A&M; University. KU’s student body president, Michael Wade Smith, included the idea to bring it to KU as one of his student senate coalition’s platform issues.
Bolton said that would make KU the 73rd university in the United States to adopt the idea.
She is one of two co-directors of the event for KU. The other is Kris Velasco, a sophomore from Wamego. They’re a good pair, said J.J. O’Toole-Curran, director of union programs for the KU Memorial Unions, who serves as the event’s staff adviser.
Bolton and Velasco come from different backgrounds, O’Toole-Curran said. Bolton is a member of the Chi Omega sorority and has a good deal of experience in dealing with philanthropies. Velasco serves as the Student Union Activities social events coordinator, so he adds event management experience.
O’Toole-Curran said the pair have negotiated through a lot of difficulties in trying to start what they hope becomes a new tradition.
“It’s really exciting to be trying something for the first time,” she said. “But every week we’re going, ‘Oh, we didn’t think of that.’”
Velasco said everyone he’s approached to help has been more than willing. People at Home Depot offered to sell supplies at a reduced rate. The chancellor and provost have supported the project.
They’re still hoping to attract 2,000 students, though only about 200 have signed up so far. Bolton said they’re not discouraged, though, because several more tried to sign up, but a website glitch prevented them from being processed.
Students can sign up as individuals or in teams. Faculty and staff are welcome, too. Most enrollment is done online, but Velasco and Bolton said they’re working to reach people who aren’t connected to the Internet, too. Volunteers planned to be in grocery stores over the weekend to get more job requests.
And even with the low student numbers so far, organizers remain confident that, whatever happens, at least they’d be doing something to give back and say thanks.
“Even though we’ve had a lot of doubt, and been kind of scared, we know that it’s going to be great for the Lawrence community,” Bolton said.