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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Students, Staff to Volunteer at 'Big Event'

Minnesota State Mankato is in its second year of organizing the "Big Event."

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 3-31-2014

More than 120 Minnesota State University, Mankato students and staff had signed up last year for the premiere “Big Event.”

The plan: fan out in the community and “give back” in a variety of ways, said Ashley Strom, assistant director of registered student organizations. The idea was to make an annual event out of taking community requests for projects — such as clean-up and yard work — and then spend the day completing those tasks as a “thank you” to Greater Mankato for hosting the university year-round.

Then spring 2013 turned on the good people of southern Minnesota with endless cold and snow, including Minnesota State Mankato’s weekend of community service, and put the kibosh on the “big” part of the event.

“It, like, snowed the week of,” Strom said. “We pulled all the outside jobs because the ground was too frozen.”

The group made the best of it by completing the indoor projects, including a few painting jobs. Between 50 and 70 students ended up actually participating last year.

That’s why on April 26 Minnesota State Mankato is hoping for a second chance to make a big impression on the community. They received 28 job requests from community organizations and individuals last year, and they want more this year.

They’re also hoping for 200 or more staff and students to sign up to help complete those tasks. But no community members are allowed to help out.

“Those are the people we’re trying to serve,” Strom said.

So now Strom wants to hear from you. Businesses, organizations and individuals can submit job-request forms for tasks they need completing between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. April 26. The goal is to get as many projects done in one day that they can within a 15-mile radius of Mankato.

The labor projects can be a range of tasks, including spring cleanup, window-washing, painting and even minor construction, such as helping to put up a fence. (The group can’t tackle more dangerous tasks, such as shingling.) Strom said Minnesota State Mankato is hoping to make the Big Event an annual community engagement activity, especially if this year’s weather helps make it successful.

“It’s the second go-round to see how it goes,” she said. “We have strong hopes that this will be a tradition for the university.”

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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