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Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2011

More than 500 KU students volunteer as part of ‘The Big Event’

Kansas University students perform odd jobs around the home of Lawrence resident Kendall Simmons Thursday, March 31, 2011. The students volunteered as part of The Big Event, a day intended for KU students to give back to the Lawrence community.

March 31, 2011

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Libby Johnson of Lawrence tosses a spray bottle of glass cleaner to Michael Wade Smith as the two work to wash the windows of Kendall Simmons' Lawrence home Thursday, March 31, 2011. These two Kansas University seniors, along with many other KU students, spent the morning and afternoon doing odd jobs as part of The Big Event, a volunteer opportunity organized by KU Student Senate.

Libby Johnson of Lawrence tosses a spray bottle of glass cleaner to Michael Wade Smith as the two work to wash the windows of Kendall Simmons' Lawrence home Thursday, March 31, 2011. These two Kansas University seniors, along with many other KU students, spent the morning and afternoon doing odd jobs as part of The Big Event, a volunteer opportunity organized by KU Student Senate.

A colder and rainier day than expected didn’t dampen the spirits of volunteers from Kansas University who spent it helping out members of the Lawrence community.

It was KU’s first attempt at “The Big Event,” something that organizers hope becomes an annual tradition. Thursday, about 100 groups composed of about 500 people were out doing all kinds of odd jobs throughout the city.

The help was offered to all residents, regardless of need, which did create some initial confusion.

“Is this one of those subversive things?” asked Lawrence resident Steve Braswell. “Am I going to have to pay it forward or something?”

Nope, said the students who gathered at his house in the 400 block of Michigan Street. The volunteers intended the gesture as a thank you to the community. So they raked, washed windows and made themselves generally available for a couple of hours.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Kendall Simmons, as students were untangling a vine from her favorite bush. “Learning to do this kind of stuff when you’re young is really remarkable. If you learn it while you’re young, when you get older it’s still in your head.”

Participating students said they enjoyed the break from the routine.

“It’s a much different thing than we do every day,” said Aaron Dollinger, a senior from Leawood who was working in a group composed of Student Senate leaders. “This is something entirely different and a nice change of pace.”

The tradition began at Texas A&M University, said Michael Wade Smith, KU’s student body president, where it has been going on for nearly two decades. There, about 10,000 to 15,000 students participate, and students get the day off from class.

“We can grow to that,” Smith said.

He said the event’s organizers, KU students Hannah Bolton and Kris Velasco, did an outstanding job, and he hoped the event would be back again next year.

Already, momentum was building. KU administrators allowed faculty and staff to take up to four hours of paid work time to volunteer on the day, Smith said, and were supportive of the project in other ways, too.

Volunteers capped off the event with a scheduled concert in the evening featuring the Louisiana Street Band and Fourth of July.

His KUnited Student Senate coalition made bringing The Big Event to KU one of its platform issues during the last student election, he said, and hoped to be able to continue it in the future.

“I am so ecstatic with how this turned out,” he said.

Comments

Kendall Simmons 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, I really said (or certainly meant to say :-) was:

“Learning to do this kind of stuff when you’re young is really awesome cuz if you learn it while you’re young, when you get older, it’s still in your head to keep on doing.”

The students were great and we really, really appreciate their efforts. Now I can wash the windows from the inside and be able to actually see results!

Thank you KU student volunteers!! I wish we could have had you all day :-)

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ahyland 3 years, 5 months ago

Sorry our wires got crossed up a bit, Kendall. But I'm glad you clarified in this space!

Andy Hyland KU Reporter

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Patrick Rooney 3 years, 5 months ago

Thats Awsome kendall! That is a great group of people! Lol I saw my folks home in the background! (Patrick)

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H_Lecter 3 years, 5 months ago

It always feels good to give...give till it hurts, I like to say.

I'd love to have next years group help to remove some stains I have on my walls, carpet, drapes, and a few on the ceiling.

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tomatogrower 3 years, 5 months ago

“Is this one of those subversive things?” asked Lawrence resident Steve Braswell. “Am I going to have to pay it forward or something?”

This is a great idea for the kids. But is this guy for real? God forbid you would have to pay it forward. God forbid that you would have to be nice to someone. What a negative attitude for such a nice gesture by some young people.

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Kendall Simmons 3 years, 5 months ago

This was actually a sarcastic comment Steve had made when the topic of people being confused about the legitimacy of the opportunity to get free help came up during the interview. It was meant as a joking negative imitation of imaginary people. Unfortunately that wasn't clear in the article, so your being annoyed was a legit response.

As I commented previously, both Steve and I were extremely grateful to these kids, and expressed our gratitude to everyone involved. And I promise I'll put duct tape over his mouth next year :-)

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Bailey Perkins 3 years, 5 months ago

I enjoyed this event SO MUCH and cannot wait until next year! I led a group of three students to assist an elderly lady, here in Lawrence. Aside from helping her with tasks, that she needed finished, we also learned so much about both her and her family. She was an AMAZING artist and so were her children. Several types of art could be seen throughout the house and there, in the living room, was the center-piece to it all, her handmade porcelain doll. It was absolutely breathtaking to see.

Getting back to the serious stuff - our assigned volunteer work even turned into a learning experience. Send four girls who are, well not entirely sure how to install curtain rods, and know that either 1) something is bound to go wrong, or 2) quite an adventure is about to unfold,

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