Biggest Big Event Provides Helping Hand to Local Residents

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Texas A&M University believes the 2013 edition of the Big Event is the biggest of them all.

The largest student-run service project in the nation got underway Saturday morning, with about 19,000 students helping out at more than 1,900 locations in the area.

This was the 31st year of the Big Event, which now is done at a number of universities, though A&M says none are as big as the Aggies'.

One of the many places where the students helped out was at the College Station home of Mary Beaver. Ten Aggies worked around the house, cleaning windows and doing some touch-up painting for a special resident of the community.

"She's 101 years old, which is really, really cool," said student Bret Walker. "I think she's probably one of the oldest people I've ever met. It's really neat to meet somebody that old, and we're glad we could come out here and help her out, for sure."

Beaver's son-in-law, John McSpadden, said his family was greatly appreciative of the Aggies' efforts.

"It gives us a lot of help because there's an awful lot of things out here to do, especially cleaning the windows, which is something Mary used to do all the time," he said.

In Bryan, another ten Aggies were busy leveling the ground and planting grass seeds for a new soccer field behind Steep Hollow Baptist Church.

Fayez Farag and his family live in the area and attend the church. They say they escaped Egypt and religious persecution just four years ago, and have been doing ministry work here since. Saturday, they saw the best of what A&M has to offer their church and the community.

"We have a lot of people helping us," Farag said. "We enjoy seeing Aggies around us. We enjoy being with Aggies also, here or at A&M."

Students from all walks of life and all sorts of organizations participate, from Corps of Cadets members doing yard work to Breathe Hope, a group raising awareness and funds in the fight against cystic fibrosis, adding paint and window glaze to a home.

The A&M football team couldn't participate in Big Event Saturday because of a scrimmage, but spent part of Friday evening at Twin City Mission's shelter doing work. In addition, they helped dedicate a playground paid for by money raised by the team and donated around Christmas time last year. The playground was dedicated to Joey Villavisencio, an Aggie player who was killed in a car accident close to Christmas 2011.

According to the university, Big Event started in 1982 when half-a-dozen students volunteered to clean up a local cemetery.