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Small gestures add up to Big Event

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Fort Hays State University students traded laptops and textbooks for rakes and paintbrushes Thursday.

The Big Event, which started at Texas A&M University, is in its third year at FHSU -- the students' way of saying thanks to the Hays community for its support.

FHSU's Student Government Association, Greek life and Tigers in Service sponsored the event.

A total of 25 projects were scheduled for the one-day event including reading to students at Lincoln and Washington elementary schools, washing windows, raking leaves and painting at the Access Transportation building, said Chris Roberts, event coordinator and SGA legislative affairs director.

Students take advantage of the Safe Ride program on the Access van, so painting the building was a way of giving back for that service, he said.

Last year, approximately 30 students volunteered to take part in the Big Event. This year, there were scheduled to be 250 students working, some pre-registered, and others, including Chris Denten, showed up Thursday morning ready to put in a few hours volunteering.

"Doing nice things for people really helps out the community, the campus and Greek life," Denten said.

Roberts said he contacted civic organizations to get the word out to the community.

Longtime Hays resident Elinor Scott learned about the project through the Northwest Kansas Association for the Visually Impaired. She signed up to have the students help with some yard work.

"I really need somebody to do this cleanup," she said. "I hired somebody last year, and I never know who to ask or how much they'll charge. I'm very grateful that they do this for us seniors who don't get out and do things like we used to."

Quentin Aker, an SGA senator and member of the Big Event committee, helped rake leaves in Scott's backyard.

"It's important students at Fort Hays become civically engaged," he said. "The Hays community does a lot for the campus, so it's important we show our appreciation and give back."