Wilkes students, surrounding community join together in service

Trevor Gilliam

Alyssa Stencavage, Life Editor

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One day a year Wilkes University students, faculty and staff gather with the surrounding community to give back and help areas in need of volunteers.
“This collaboration serves to unite and foster growth between Wilkes Colonels and local communities,” this year’s Big Event coordinator, Taylor Moyer.
Helping the community is something Moyer said everyone seems to enjoy, along with the event itself.
“The experiences participants have with those in the local community are priceless,” Moyer said. “Participants seem excited to offer their services to the community of Wilkes-Barre.”
This level of enjoyment brings people back, as well as new members joining.
“It is a great event, and participants love to help out,” Moyer said.
With more than 400 participants, last year was the year The Big Event was initiated, through the efforts of Jamie Miller and coordinator Willie Eggleston.  Originally started as a Student Government-run service event, The Big Event has continued on that same route this time around, just with a different coordinator and a committee working side by side.
“Since all Student Government recognized clubs on campus are required to perform community service, this event is a convenient way, provided by Student Government, for these clubs to attain their service,” Moyer said.
This year, on April 7, students, faculty, staff and alumni joined together and do their part to help those in need of assistance by raking yards, painting fences, cleaning up damage and much more. With the help of local agencies, they were on the hunt for volunteer sites.
Only positive feedback has followed from last year’s gathering. Approximately 400 participants attended this year’s Big Event, which didn’t account for those came that day.
Moyer believes this is not only an event that supports the community at large, but also one that allows students to accomplish other goals in the process.
“I think The Big Event is a great event because it brings together the students, faculty and staff at Wilkes University and the local community of Wilkes-Barre through various service projects,” Moyer said. “I believe people should get involved because it is a great opportunity to give back to the members of the surrounding communities and an easy way to fulfill any service hours.”
For pharmacy major Kristofer Rivers, this year is his first year overseeing The Big Event and helping out where needed, and he also sees the event as something that benefits students while also providing a way to get involved.
He said for one, it gives a chance for students to actively participate with new students and each other in a community event. This day of service is also great for Wilkes’ relationship with the local community, especially for students to give back. He said it fosters the relationship with the school and surrounding area.
“It gives students a sense of pride that they’re helping out and will encourage them to help out in the future wherever they go,” Rivers said.
He said everyone should volunteer at some point through the year every year.
“It is great to improve the area you live in and great for individuals to grow in all aspects of their lives,” Rivers said. “This is that chance for students, and all they have to do is show up and offer their time. It’s simple, but should be a lot of fun.”
This year’s group also worked together with Student Development Activities Assistant Kayla Cauthon to make the event a success. Cauthon is both new to the university and it is her first time involved with The Big Event, as the adviser.
She said that because it was previously advised by someone else, taking on the event was a bit overwhelming at first. However, she said it’s been a challenge that she’s accepted and she feels that everything is coming together smoothly.
“Working with the students has been really great, seeing them grow as leaders and answering any questions that they may have,” Cauthon said.
Cauthon also believes that community service is important, especially to the university. She said the purpose of The Big Event is to say thank you to the local community, and that because we are in inhabitance of this community, it is important to do so.
“It’s always nice to be able to give back,” Cauthon said. “It is a way to work alongside faculty, staff and community members. It’s a different kind of event. The community gives back to us, so it’s awesome to be able to give back to them.”
For more information on The Big Event, visit www.wilkes.edu.

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