The Big Event exceeded expectations this year, as more than 1,200 participants volunteered at 81 sites.
“I think that says that our students really communicate with each other, and they know a good opportunity when they see it,” said Matt Hudak, event co-chair. “It’s unbelievable to me how well Quinnipiac has increased this event, and I’m so proud of it.”
The number of participants nearly doubled from last year’s 688, with an increase in off-campus volunteer sites as well.
“We really wanted to have 1,000 people with 75 sites, and we were told aim for 750 people with 75 sites, but we thought we could do more than that,” Hudak said. “We had just enough people the morning of to have a solid 1,200 volunteers come out, including the community and our volunteer drivers and faculty drivers as well.”
One of the 81 locations ran into trouble, according to sophomore Natalie Karpinski.
Her group went to West River Memorial Park in New Haven and got more than they bargained for when they came across men who “seemed to be on drugs” under a tarp made into a tent a few feet away from where the group was picking up trash.
They were supposed to be cleaning the soccer fields, but the gate was locked and while waiting for the supervisor to arrive, they went around to the other side and started cleaning up the woods by the parking lot.
Karpinski said one of the boys made the decision to leave the area, and when the supervisor got there “he wouldn’t open up the gates to the soccer fields because ‘it wasn’t worth it.’ Apparently picking up the sticks and trash around the parking lot seemed more beneficial to him than cleaning up the soccer fields.”
Karpinski said a situation like that could’ve been prevented had the sites been checked out beforehand. The group was brought back to campus, where they had on-campus service projects as backups.
“Obviously they’re public places and there’s no way to predict what students will encounter,” Hudak said. “That’s obviously something we don’t want students seeing. As soon as we heard that we wrote down the site and will make sure that it won’t be a site for next year.”
Besides that minor setback, “overall the day went smoothly, with no major problems or issues arising,” said Melissa Trinks, event co-chair.
Other volunteer sites included Girl Scouts of Connecticut campgrounds, food kitchens, park and beach cleanups, AIDS Project New Haven, Children’s Center of Hamden, and Animal Haven.