April 18, 2019  

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Annual Big Event Sees Large Student Turnout in Hattiesburg, Long Beach

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De'Andre Davis, a sophomore from Vicksburg, Miss., volunteers his time at the Red Cross facility in Hattiesburg as part of the annual Big Event. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

Beautiful spring weather greeted more than 600 University of Southern Mississippi students who volunteered their services as part of the 8th Annual Big Event on Saturday, March 24. Students from the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses spent part of their day offering assistance to a variety of South Mississippi entities.

Since 2010, Southern Miss has participated in The Big Event, which is also held at other colleges and universities across the country during which service projects benefiting local communities are undertaken by university volunteers.

“We were excited by the increased number of participants from last year who had the opportunity to experience meaningful service opportunities in the Pine Belt through The Big Event,” said Wynde Fitts, associate dean of students at USM.

The Big Event is supported by the USM Student Government Association (SGA), with assistance from the University’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE). Volunteers were divided into groups by service sites and led by SGA volunteers.

Beneficiaries of the volunteer efforts in the Hattiesburg area included the Salvation Army, The Edwards Street Fellowship Center, local public schools, the Humane Society, Southern Pines Animal Shelter, and DREAM of Hattiesburg, Inc., among many others.  

Students from the Gulf Park campus helped with beach and city-wide clean up in Long Beach. Participants cleaned East Beach Boulevard, across from beachfront campus, down to Jefferson Davis Avenue. 

“This year’s Big Event offered a wonderful collaboration between the city and USM, and allowed our students to connect with community members and develop a significant relationship through service,” Jolanda W. Taylor, student affairs coordinator at USM Gulf Park. “The clean-up event helped to enhance our community and demonstrates a love for the Gulf Coast and city in which our institution is located.”