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JMU Students Show Spirit at The Big Event

Video by Kelsey Mohring, Makenzie Walter and David Jordan

Photos of Harrisonburg Big Event
Photos of Alumni Association Big Event

Early Saturday morning on James Madison University's Quad students gathered to register for The Big Event, a student-organized day of service intended to show appreciation and make a positive impact on the community. Wearing bright yellow T-shirts, committee members handed out volunteer assignments, box lunches and encouraging words for the 850 students heading out to serve the community.

"We're so lucky to be here and it's just an amazing way to get everybody rallied together," said freshman Emily Thyroff. "It's getting out there and showing how much we appreciate being in Harrisonburg."

According to Executive Director of Student Greater Madison and The Big Event Co-Chair Truman Horwitz, Big Event participants worked both locally and throughout the nation. This year JMU alumni across the country formed Big Event teams to coordinate with the day of service in Harrisonburg. Locally, volunteers were assigned to schools, churches and other non-profit organizations to perform jobs such as painting, yard work, clearing debris and cleaning.

Cris Lopez, youth minister for Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, hosted four teams of JMU students. The volunteers painted the large hall, cleaned classrooms and washed down over 200 tables and chairs. "One of the neat things about The Big Event is that it gets very capable and able adults that are attending college to actually engage their community around them," said Lopez.

Freshman Alexis Hendrix worked at the Explore More Discovery Museum with two friends. "We were all really excited about volunteering," she said. "I love getting hands-on with the community. I feel like we have a 'JMU bubble' so being able to go out of the bubble and do this as an entire university-wide event was really exciting."

Nationwide Impact

This year The Big Event student committee partnered with the Alumni Association to reach out to alumni chapters and encourage them to participate in The Big Event in their own communities. Thirteen alumni teams across the country received Big Event T-shirts and served their communities on the same day as the JMU students in Harrisonburg.

Kristen Malzone ('09) worked with an alumni group spring-cleaning at The Veterans Residence in West Hempstead, NY. Following clean-up, the group ate lunch with the veterans who live there. "Being a Duke means being the change you wish to see in the world. Giving back to our local communities is the best way to exude JMU pride beyond Harrisonburg," said Malzone.

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April 16, 2012