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  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette IPFW junior Amanda Lafontaine works on cleaning out stalls at Camp Red Cedar, while the occupants of the stall check out her work during The Big Event. Hundreds participated Saturday in the annual day of community service.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette IPFW student volunteers, from left to right, Ryan Allred, Taylor Talamantes, student leader, and Matthew Furge work on cleaning out the stalls and stable area at Camp Red Cedar during Saturday's The Big Event. With Video.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015 1:53 pm

IPFW joins big day of giving back

Keiara Carr The Journal Gazette

In its fourth year, The Big Event at IPFW opened its doors to the nearly 800 students, faculty, staff and alumni who signed up for a day of community service Saturday morning. 

And even before those volunteers boarded their league of buses outside IPFW’s Athletic Center,  Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for student life and leadership, made a safe bet. 

"We have organizations that will start asking today how to register for next year," she said. "We’re able to provide some volunteers and help them with some projects they knew they were going to have to do, but had no idea how they were going to get it done."

IPFW was able to help more than 60 agencies with projects for The Big Event, an annual day of service for universities across the country. Some of the  participating agencies included the Allen County SPCA, Downtown Improvement District, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne and Habitat for Humanity. 

IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said IPFW has increased its number of participating agencies by 10 percent this year.  

"It’s really a way of modeling service for our students and for our community and teaching them about giving back," she said. "The community has given us their support of IPFW, and this is a way of giving back." 

Carwein and Mayor Tom Henry both took time to welcome the volunteers before the crowd clustered together into groups for each site. 

The 45 students in IPFW’s Upward Bound program represented the largest group of volunteers for the day. Upward Bound’s assistant director, Lydia Bates, said the group of 14- to 18-year-olds was going to St. Henry’s Community Center to paint a mural and other outdoor and indoor chores.

Meanwhile, IPFW senior and student leader Bradley Crowe said his group would help with social media regarding River Summit for the Allen County Partnership for Water Quality. 

Participating in The Big Event since his freshman year, Crowe said he doesn’t expect this year to be his last time volunteering for the event. 

"I think the students are anticipating it every year, so you get a lot of positive feedback from students earlier on in the semester, which is definitely different from the first year, and maybe the second year," he said. "You have students who weren’t involved in student leadership the year before that want to get involved this year, and help other student groups get involved." 

IPFW senior Trang Tran and junior Kathleen Le leaned in for a picture while they waited with their friends on the bleachers.  Both said this is their first time volunteering for the event, and while Tran’s explanation was more conventional – one of her friends asked her to sign up – Le believes one of her friends might have signed her up before she even knew about it.

Either way, they both showed up ready to help. 

"We want to give back to the community as much as we can," Tran said. "We’re fortunate to be at school, and getting our education, but not every one can do that, so what we can do is give back to them." 

kcarr@jg.net