NDSU students, alumni give back to community in all-day volunteer event
Published April 30, 2012
NDSU volunteers took advantage of a gorgeous 75-degree spring day to give back to the Fargo-Moorhead community. More than 700 students, staff, faculty and alumni spent April 24 doing indoor and outdoor chores at 35 nonprofit organizations and 42 private homes.
More than 2,000 service hours were contributed as part of the school’s third-annual all-day volunteer program, The BIG Event, which was organized by NDSU’s Volunteer Network, Student Government and the Alumni Association.
“The goal was simply to give back to community members,” said Trista Manikowske, co-president of the event and a graduate student in health, nutrition and exercise science. “It’s important that they know students want to take time out of their day to help the community.”
Volunteers spent four two-hour shifts on a variety of projects. Activities varied from yard work, painting, spring cleaning, removing Christmas lights, demolition and repair projects, and organizing homes and offices. Several students signed up for multiple shifts and worked at private homes surrounding the campus. “A lot of older individuals couldn’t do yard work or spring clean up,” Manikowske said. “It’s not every day you have someone come to your house and help with things you can’t do. That’s where the larger impact happens.”
A group of 25 students placed mulch around 250 trees in Fargo’s newest park. Located in north Fargo, Riverwood Park covers about 50 acres and continues to be developed. “It was nice to work with such a big group,” said Jeff Haberman, Fargo Park District forester. “We got a lot done that we otherwise might not be able to accomplish.”
Laura Bihrle, a junior from Bismarck, N.D., and vice president of the NDSU Student Nurses Association, led a group of 18 pre-nursing and nursing students who removed and reorganized props and other materials at two Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre sites. “We were able to accomplish something they’ve been trying to get done for a couple of years now,” she said. “It’s great just being able to help the Fargo-Moorhead area.”
More than a dozen students helped the YWCA Cass Clay develop and plant a vegetable garden in the emergency shelter’s backyard. “The goal is to have women have fresh produce at the shelter,” said Amber Dahl, YWCA volunteer and donation coordinator.
Students also painted the organization’s conference room. “It’s nice to have college students come in and see what we do here,” Dahl said. “Even if they are not directly helping a client, they are helping indirectly.”
Jen Engquist, community center director of Churches United for the Homeless in Moorhead, Minn., said, “Our groups were fantastic. They did everything from shampooing carpets to translating and helping us communicate in our food pantry and a great number of jobs in between. We are very thankful for them. We’re looking forward to more NDSU volunteers come through as they’ve always been a big part of our volunteer services.”
Manikowske was on the planning committee for NDSU’s first The BIG Event and has been able to see the event grow. She said she hopes to continue adding volunteers and locations.
The BIG Event was first established at Texas A&M University in 1982 by a former student body president who wanted to give students the opportunity to say “thank you.” It has since become the largest one-day, student-organized service event in the country, organizers said.
For more information, visit www.ndsubigevent.com.