Big Event, a big day of volunteering, planned for Saturday

This year, there is a contingency plan in case of rain

Kansas freshmen Kate Schaper, of Overland Park, and Michael Utt, of Lenexa, plant onions in a garden at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, 1400 Massachusetts Street, Saturday April 12, 2014, as part of the fourth annual Big Event program. The Big Event, which is sponsored by Kansas University, is a one day service day in which thousands of student volunteers descend upon project sites located throughout the community.

This year’s Kansas University Big Event has a few things that past years’ events have not — including thousands of unused work gloves they didn’t have to buy anew, and a rain date.

The Big Event, a day of volunteering organized by KU students, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers will gather on the KU campus, arm themselves with supplies, then fan out to do lawn work, painting, cleaning and other projects at homes and community properties across Lawrence.

About 3,000 volunteers are signed up to help with projects at 330 job sites this year, said Big Event director of community relations, Tina Woods, a KU senior from Galena.

The event is in its sixth year, although the 2015 Big Event — while planned — didn’t actually happen.

The 2015 Big Event was canceled the afternoon before because of thunderstorms in the forecast. Organizers had lined up more than 3,600 volunteers to help with projects at more than 300 homes and other sites.

It was not rescheduled because, basically, it lacked an equally big contingency plan.

This year, Woods said, Big Event planners are ready, just in case.

While she’s optimistic there will be no need, if the April 16 event were to be rained out the Big Event would be moved to April 30.

“All of our planning leading into this event has included conversations about a rain date,” Woods said.

That includes informing participants and sponsors to be sure they have the backup date penciled in — again, just in case.

Woods said the Big Event is funded entirely with donations, either cash or in-kind donations such as snacks or tools.

And there are a lot of tools, she said. In addition to about 3,000 new gloves that went unused last year, the group has been storing hundreds of rakes, hedge trimmers and other tools and cleaning products to use this year.

“A unique thing that increases the Big Event’s capacity to serve the community is that we’re able to provide a lot of the tools needed,” Woods said.

All job sites for this year already have been scheduled, but Woods said community members looking for help in the future should check the Big Event website next spring for information on how to get on the list,