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Community Service Focus for Southern Miss during The Big Event April 10 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, March 19, 2010
Contact David Tisdale, 601.266.4499   

University of Southern Mississippi sophomore Ashley Anderson has a passion for community service.  

A Southern Miss Luckyday Scholar from Utica, Miss. and an Honors College student, Anderson volunteers at Hawkins Elementary School in Hattiesburg mentoring students and assisting teachers in the classroom. She has also assisted with Southern Pines Animal Shelter’s Adopt-a-Pet Saturdays at the pet supply store PetSmart. 

So it’s no surprise she’s looking forward to joining hundreds of fellow students, faculty and staff for the Big Event, a community-wide day of service April 10 that is part of Southern Miss’ schedule of Centennial Celebration activities and the largest community service effort in the university’s history.

“I believe incorporating community service into our Centennial Celebration activities is a fantastic idea, because surrounding communities support the university in countless ways,” said Anderson, who will serve as a team leader for the event. “It not only helps students become more involved in the Centennial, it also makes our communities stronger. It’s going to be a great day and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

The Big Event is a joint initiative between the Southern Miss Student Government Association, the Office of Community Service Learning and the Centennial Celebration Office. It will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include three hours of community service from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and a reflection lunch for participants. Transportation to community service sites will be provided.

A similar effort will be coordinated by Southern Miss Gulf Coast in building a Habitat for Humanity home in the area for a family in need of housing. Ken Zantow, assistant dean for gulf coast programs with the Southern Miss College of Business, is organizing the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Big Event along with Christy Elias, coordinator for student development and leadership at Southern Miss Gulf Coast.

Zantow said assisting Habitat for Humanity is a great way to help ease the housing crunch on the Gulf Coast following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and an expression of appreciation for the area’s support of the university. “Housing is a big need here, and this project also allows us to give back to the community that we all live and work in,” he said.

“The closer we get to the big day, the more excitement builds up. We’re anxious to get out there and start swinging some hammers.”

Hattiesburg agencies that will benefit from the volunteer initiative include the Salvation Army; Hattiesburg Area Habitat for Humanity; Thames Elementary School; Hawkins Elementary School; Edwards Street Fellowship Center; R3sm (Recover, Restore, Rebuild South Mississippi); the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center; and the city of Hattiesburg Parks and Recreation Department.

Included in the day’s activities will be the Habitat House dedication for Southern Miss staff member Melissa Carpenter at 10:30 a.m. at the Celeste Place subdivision on Edwards Street. Her home was constructed through a partnership between Southern Miss, William Carey University and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church.

Southern Miss has a strong tradition of community service. Students at the university contribute on average approximately 40,000 service hours annually, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics amounts to more than $750,000 based on its hourly wage value of $18.77. Many Southern Miss faculty members also include community service as a component of the academic curriculum.

Faculty and staff at the university also volunteer for local charities and serve on agency boards as members and officers, and each year give about $100,000 to the United Way of Southeast Mississippi’s annual campaign in support of area human service agencies, three of which are on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus: The DuBard School for Language Disorders, the Children’s Center for Communication and Development and the Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention.

To date more than 400 students have signed up to participate in The Big Event, but there is still time for more students and faculty and staff to register to participate. Register online at

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at
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