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Learning in Action at the University of Virginia

Madison House Fifth Annual BIG Event

Xara Davies

The BIG EventThis past Saturday, April 13, hundreds of University students came out to participate in the Madison House BIG Event. Through service-oriented activities at various locations around Charlottesville, the BIG Event promotes campus and community unity as students come together for one day to express their gratitude for the support from the surrounding community. Volunteering work could include a variety of activities—from yard work to painting to writing thank-you notes! With over 350 volunteers and 50 job sites, the BIG Event is the largest community service event at UVA, facilitating connections between the student body and the Charlottesville community.

The Head Program Director and one of the organizers of the fifth annual BIG Event was Jyotika Chandhoke, a fourth-year studying commerce, who has been involved in the BIG Event executive team since her second year. Chandhoke feels that Madison House has been an integral part of her UVA experience.

"I've seen first hand the relationships that the BIG Event has cultivated with local homeowners and organizations in just a few short years, and how much of an impact just one day of service can make in building bridges with the Charlottesville community!" Chandhoke said.

As outlined in a recent UVA Today article, the Big Event began at Texas A&M University in 1982 when student leaders saw a need to give back to their surrounding community of Bryan-College Station. After 36 years, the BIG Event is held annually at more than 60 universities across the nation.

Tim Freilich, the Executive Director of Madison House, commented in the UVA Today article that the BIG Event is an opportunity to further Madison House's goal of building partnerships with the Charlottesville community.

“We are proud to bring hundreds of individuals together in a day of service to build relationships and make tangible differences in the community," Freilich said.

A variety of community partners were involved with the BIG Event. Students partnered with various communities, organizations, nonprofits, schools, and more, including the Belmont Arts Collaborative and the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA. Student organizations from all across the University, from a cappella groups to Greek organizations, came out to volunteer.

"I love that being a part of the team gives me the opportunity to step out of the UVA bubble and contribute to the community in a variety of ways," Chandhoke said. "Whether it's saving the urban forest near North Grounds, or helping a homeowner move their furniture and paint their fence!"

If you would like to get involved with Madison House this summer, check out various summer volunteer opportunities.

Xara Davies
About the Author: 

Xara Natasja Davies is a third-year majoring in English literature. Xara is from England and is very passionate about community service and disability advocacy. Xara's hobbies include travelling, writing, and watching Grey's Anatomy.