Hundreds of Salukis participated in “The Big Event: A Saluki Day of Service” on April 7

Hundreds of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students, faculty and staff joined forces on April 7 to “get things done” during “The Big Event: A Saluki Day of Service.”

Despite Mother Nature providing a cold and damp day, 414 volunteers turned out for the massive community service event, which was entirely planned and implemented by students. It was a chance for the SIU community to say “Thank you” to the Carbondale region for its ongoing support.

Thousands of hours donated

Beginning bright and early on that Saturday morning, the large contingent of volunteers fanned out to give of their time and energy to 16 different non-profit organizations.

They spruced up the downtown, cleared nature trails, assisted with packaging at a food pantry, cleaned animal cages, created thank you cards and snack sacks for firefighters, made fleece blankets for the elderly, assisted with a blood drive and much more.

In all, they donated 1,242 hours to 18 different projects that Saturday, working in either in half-day or full-day shifts.

Volunteers worked numerous sites

Chancellor Carlo Montemagno spoke to the student volunteers during the event kick-off ceremony, which featured an appearance by Grey Dawg.

The non-profit organizations and agencies which were beneficiaries of the Saluki volunteers’ service included:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale.
  • Carbondale Main Street.
  • Green Earth Inc.
  • For Kids’ Sake.
  • The American Red Cross.
  • Keep Carbondale Beautiful.
  • The Autism Society of Illinois.
  • The Humane Society.
  • Frances CARE Animal Shelter.
  • Wesley Foundation.
  • Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
  • The Women’s Center.
  • Gaia House.
  • Carbondale Fire Department.
  • SIU Sustainable Farms.
  • Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

A big success

“I was thrilled how the event turned out,” William Schefelbein, a senior management major who served as the event executive director, said. “We have received nothing but great feedback.”

Schefelbein and Kathy Smith-Shaffer, assistant dean of students, said the day was a remarkable time during which students, faculty and staff from SIU worked together to help one another and the surrounding community.

“It was amazing to see the faculty and staff come out to support us students in the logistics and organization of the event,” Schefelbein said. “Although I will not be leading the event next year, I am optimistic that it will continue to grow and further the relationship between the university and the community.”

SIU has a long history of service

Community service is an intrinsic part of SIU. Each year, students donate more than 30,000 hours of their time through registered student organizations, coordinated efforts and individual volunteerism. Faculty and staff are very involved in their communities and volunteerism as well.

SIU’s Big Event is modeled after an annual Texas A&M University event founded in 1982. The inaugural event in Carbondale was last year and 15 local organizations benefited.

Event illustrates the bond between SIU and the community

The Big Event’s purpose is multi-faceted.

It’s a chance for students, faculty and staff to show their appreciation to the greater community for its support of the university and its students and an opportunity for Salukis to connect with one another, forming or strengthening relationships.

In addition, participants can learn more about various community service opportunities in the region and discover how to get involved in an ongoing basis.

Variety of campus and off-campus units were involved

Sponsors of “The Big Event: A Saluki Day of Services” included:

  • SIU Division of Student Affairs.
  • Student Center.
  • Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism.
  • Recreational Sports and Services.
  • University Housing.
  • Non-Traditional Student Services.
  • Silkworm Inc.
  • Panera Bread.
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