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Towson University's 'Big Event' to offer odd jobs for locals

Hannah Scott of Columbia, left, and Rose Anderson, of Parkville, pull invasive plants from the base of a cherry tree during the Big Event in Towson at Cromwell Valley Park in a 2015 file photo.
Hannah Scott of Columbia, left, and Rose Anderson, of Parkville, pull invasive plants from the base of a cherry tree during the Big Event in Towson at Cromwell Valley Park in a 2015 file photo. (Karen Jackson / Baltimore Sun Media Group File)

Every year, more than a thousand Towson University students put on their work gloves and go out into the Towson community to weed, mulch, plant or paint.

The Big Event, as the volunteer day is called, marks its 10th anniversary this year on April 13. Its purpose: to “give back” to the Towson community, said Corey Holland, the school’s coordinator of community outreach.

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“There’s this notion of students don’t care about the community, they’re always trashing the community,” Holland said. “When you have one big day of students cleaning up all of Towson, I think it sends the message that students care about this place and really want to make this home.”

The event is spearheaded by student organizations, especially campus Greek life, but individuals, staff members and alumni also volunteer, he said.

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“It’s become part of the culture at TU,” Holland said.

Holland said students volunteer at churches and environmental areas like streams, but the majority of volunteer sites are private homes, with many of the owners older people.

“A lot of people that do need help are elderly or may not be able to afford it,” Holland said.

Most years, between 1,700 and 1,800 students participate, Holland said, saying this year the goal is to recruit more than 2,000 volunteers.

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University spokesman Sean Welsh said including The Big Event, students performed more than one million total service hours in 2018.

“Led by student groups and our student-athletes, The Big Event is not only a chance to be good neighbors and contribute to the Towson community, but it speaks to a greater culture of giving that resonates across our campus,” Welsh said in an email.

The event is organized by a student executive committee, Holland said. This year, the committee advertised using door hangers and going door-to-door to let people know about the event.

Towson residents can request that volunteers come to their home until March 25 by registering at http://towson.edu/thebigevent. Students, staff members and alumni are sent to volunteer at each site in groups.

Supplies other than work gloves must be provided by the homeowners, according to the event website. All projects must be performed outside and students are not allowed to use power tools.

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