Washburn’s Big Event big success for 2014

This year was a record year. Over 300 people volunteered performing over 1500 hours of community service in Topeka. 

On Saturday, April 26, over 300 volunteers completed more than 1,000 hours of community service during the Big Event at Washburn University. The Volunteers were provided with breakfast, t-shirts, water, lunch and transportation and were sent out all over Topeka to several sites to engage in volunteer work.

Randy Pembroke, vice president for academic affairs, spoke to the crowd before it set out. At one point Pembroke shared Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Sophomore Damian Barron, Community Liaison  or WSGA, said he was very enthusiastic about this year’s Big Event.

“We’ve learned a lot over the last two years,” said Barron. “We are not rejecting anyone not registered that shows up to help…”

Barron personally likes this event because his generation often sees community service as a duty and boring. They don’t usually want to volunteer.

 “This event makes it more than community service but as a way of making it an event and something fun.” Barron said. “I think people forget how good it feels to do good. This way we see it as more than just community service, but an event.” 

The original “Big Event” started at Texas A&M University several years ago. They gathered students and went out in their community engaging in community service.  It started out small but soon other universities followed suit. Three years ago Washburn merged the “Big Event” with a similar project, “Bods into the Street” which originated in 1995.

Shelby Konkel, WSGA president at the time worked to bring the” Big Event” to Washburn with Rick Ellis, Washburn Human Services director. They worked hard to get the ball rolling and Washburn’s first “Big Event” began in 2011. Over 100 people showed up that year and were sent out to do community service around Topeka. 

Since that time the Big Event has grown each year. This year was a record year. Over 300 people volunteered performing over 1500 hours of community service in Topeka.

“We have the Washburn Community coming together to create a powerful impact in our local community,” said Laura Stadler, a WU graduate and employee in Human Services. “It is amazing to see our students putting our school motto, ‘Not for ourselves alone,’ into action.” 

There were a variety of jobs at more than 30 different areas around Topeka to help with. Some volunteers did outdoor work and cleaned up the Shunga trail or painted stripes in a parking lot. Other volunteers helped inside doing clerical work or assisting the librarians at the Topeka Public Library.

Some other sites the WU volunteers helped with on Saturday were: Keep America Beautiful, Let’s Help, Valeo Behavioral Health Care, Marian Clinic, Central Park Community Center, Topeka Community Cycle Project, Planting Peace (Equality House), Oakland Community Garden, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Topeka Youth Project, Midland Care, Ronald McDonald House, Red Cross, TARC, the Topeka Zoo, and Helping Hands Humane Society.

For more information about Washburn’s Big Event, or to volunteer for next year contact WGSA at 785-670-1169 or visit:


Check out updates from this year’s Big Event on Twitter or Facebook!