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Cherokee County Election Board Secretary and Delta Zeta sponsor Connie Parnell, left, worked on a painting project with Northeastern State University Delta Zeta sorority members and students Keshia Kincaid, center, and Caitlyn Boultinghouse, during the Big Event Saturday.

College students, many of whom are living away from home, sometimes have very little connection to the community in which they study..

Northeastern State University hosted its annual Big Event this past Saturday, a service project that allows students, faculty and staff a chance to say “thank you” to members and businesses of the Tahlequah community for their continued support.

According to Chris Adney, NSU director of Student Activities, 729 students signed up for this year’s event.

“I’d say we had, ballpark, about 90 job requests submitted,” said Adney. “What was interesting is that project requests ranged from individuals who own homes requesting assistance, to businesses, to the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, to non-profit organizations like the Humane Society of Cherokee County.”

University official believe the Big Event, started at Texas A&M and now involves more than 70 other schools, is not about the number of jobs completed or about the number of students who participate each year; rather, it is the interaction with the residents and the resulting unity in the community that makes The Big Event important.

“This was the first year I’ve been involved,” said Adney. “And I felt like it went really well. The weather was nice and a lot of work was performed. It also allowed our students to see parts of the community they hadn’t seen before, meet new people and really help out. It is very service oriented.”

The Big Event is coordinated by the Herb Rozell Scholars, who in turn appoint a student committee throughout the planning process. This year’s Rozell Scholars Megan Edmonds and Morgan Bozone were in charge of this year’s service project.

“Our goal this year was to really make a connection between student volunteers and the work they were doing in the community,” said Edmonds. “The NSU broadcast students got involved, and filmed the volunteers and the people they were helping. They’re making a video presentation that they plan to show at an event next week. We’re going to have food, the video and a speaker who will talk about how important it is to try and make a difference in your community.”

To make sure everything went smoothly, Edmonds and Bozone began planning last summer.

“My co-director and I started meeting last summer, in July, just to outline what we wanted to do,” said Edmonds. “We had our first committee meeting with 12 students in early September. After that, we had bi-weekly meeting in the fall, and weekly meetings this semester to make sure everything was on schedule.”

Jobs ranged from painting to lawn work to odd jobs, and required a good deal of supplies for all involved.

“We are very grateful to our sponsors which included the Northeastern Student Government Association, the fraternities and sororities, as well as a number of local businesses,” said Edmonds. “They helped make sure we had everything we needed, include hand rakes, shovels, ladders, squeegees and things like that.”


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