Ole Miss sets 'The Big Event'

OXFORD – More than 1,200 University of Mississippi students will help their host community Saturday when they treat Oxford and Lafayette County residents and organizations to a day of service.
The inaugural Big Event stems from “UMSFusion,” begun in 2003 to provide services to low-income, elderly and disabled residents, which sometimes attracted as many as about 200 volunteers.
“This is on a much larger scale – more than six times as many students are registered,” said Melinda Carlson, associate dean of students and one of the project’s organizers. “It is not a needs-based day of service; it’s a chance to say ‘Thank you’ to the community.”
Entities across the campus have increased their emphasis on service since Chancellor Dan Jones made it a focus of his tenure.
“First, let us be purposeful about a spirit of service,” Jones challenged at his April 2010 inauguration. “Many come to this university to find themselves. Gandhi taught that ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.'”
Projects for The Big Event came from contacts with schools, civic groups, local governments and even businesses. They include such services as nursing-home visiting, landscaping, painting and organizing.
“There wasn’t a project too big or too small. It just had to fit within the typical abilities of college students,” Carlson said. “We’re going to work with the VFW to help clear land for the Veterans Park, and we’re helping the city clean out a warehouse and working at Yokna Bottoms Farm to get their crops planted.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau