CHADRON – Chadron State College’s ninth annual The Big Event (TBE) was a success in spite of complications including COVID-19 protocols and weather, according to Graduate Assistant Kaci Waugh. Although jobsite teams that had initially planned to work outside were reassigned due to snow Thursday and Friday, Waugh said about 400 volunteers came ready to work Saturday morning. The volunteers helped civic organizations, businesses, and residents with tasks including cleaning, picking up trash, sorting, organizing, and painting.
“A lot got accomplished. I truly am so thankful for everyone who joined and who was part of this experience and I want thank my staff and Dr. Shaunda French-Collins for all of her help. Hopefully everyone enjoyed their day,” Waugh said.
Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System Dr. Paul Turman welcomed students and employees at a kick-off meeting in the Chicoine Center at 9 a.m. Throughout the morning, TBE staff members delivered water to volunteers at work sites. Lunch and T-shirts were also provided.
Jobsite coordinator Alexis Heller of Wisner, Nebraska, worked at the Fur Trade Museum. It was her third year.
“It feels good to be back in the community since last year was virtual. It just feels good to give back to the community that does so much for the college,” Heller said.
Dr. Lisette Leesch, a professor in the Justice Studies program, worked at the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department.
“This kind of coming together of the community really makes me proud and it’s very exciting to be able to work beside my students to accomplish something incredibly concrete,” Leesch said.
Turman also helped at the fire department.
“It’s exciting to see so many committed people willing to give back to the community. They are really trying to make a difference. I appreciate everyone who has been willing to participate. I’m proud of these students who are willing to engage with their community and move Chadron State College forward,” Turman said.
Branden Martens, chief of the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department, said the department appreciates help from college volunteers since they plan to host the state convention in October.
Nate Cronin of Fort Pierre, South Dakota, said he enjoyed his first year with TBE.
“The community does so much for the school that it's at least we can do that come, and in our case, paint lines at the fire department,” Cronin said.
CSC faculty member Sara Grant helped clean at the Dawes County Historical Society’s Museum and discovered some artifacts related her family history.
“My grandmother graduated from Chadron Prep and my grandfather worked at Fort Robinson training dogs so it's just fascinating here. I encourage everybody to come out to the museum to see the history of Dawes County,” Grant said.
Camp Norwesca Director Ethan Porter said he was grateful to have triple the number of volunteers he was originally expecting, due to outside crews being reassigned to indoor work.
“We really appreciate the partnership with CSC in helping us get our site ready for summer camp each year,” Porter said.
CSC Health Professions Club member Kesha DeGroff of Broken Bow, Nebraska, said she was grateful for the opportunity to volunteer.
Colton Brienza, a Criminal Justice major from Buffalo, South Dakota, said he hopes to participate in The Big Event every year.
“I think it was successful. Everybody did their part,” Brienza said.
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