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USM Students Set to Participate in Annual Big Event March 22-26

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 09:55am | By: Van Arnold

The University of Southern Mississippi’s premier community volunteer project – The Big Event – will undergo a rather big change for 2021. Instead of the customary one-day effort, this year’s event will be spread out over five days: March 22-26.

The annual event is a partnership between USM’s Student Government Association and the Center for Community Engagement. Volunteers will be participating in service projects at numerous sites in and around the Hattiesburg area, as well as the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

Hannah Khan, a junior from Meridian, Miss., serves as a member of the Student Government Association’s cabinet and director of the 2021 Big Event. Khan noted that due to the ongoing constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Event team decided to implement a change in strategy.

“We thought that having a five-day event would be the best way to get students involved, while also following COVID-19 guidelines and keeping the student body and everyone at different sites safe,” she said. “We also felt this was a way to get as many students as possible involved. We understand that some students go home over the weekend or use the weekend as a time to focus on self-care and take a break from all of the challenges that come from going to college during a global pandemic. Thus, by having a week-long event, it allows student to volunteer at a time that is convenient for them by offering multiple options throughout the week.”

Among the scheduled volunteer work sites for this year’s Big Event:

  • Habitat for Humanity of the Pine Belt
  • Christian Services
  • Christian Services Thrift Store
  • R3SM
  • The Family Y of Southeast Mississippi
  • Southern Pines Animal Shelter
  • Edward Street Fellowship Food Pantry
  • First Start Academy
  • Oseola McCarty Development Center
  • Freedman’s Bureau (a virtual volunteer opportunity)

Since 2010, Southern Miss has participated in The Big Event, which is also held at other colleges and universities across the country during which service projects benefiting local communities are undertaken by university volunteers.

Khan’s Big Event teammates include co-directors MarQuan Lewis and Taylor Boykin; advisor, Amanda Jo Ladner, the Communications Branch of SGA; and Auburn Ansley, executive director of events for SGA Cabinet.

Khan stresses that community volunteer projects such as the Big Event give students an opportunity to represent the University in a unique and profound way.

“I believe that it is so important for students to serve because it not only allows students to have a new level of respect for our campus, university, and community by letting us go out, working hands on to make this community the best it possibly can be, but it also gives us all a chance to give back to a place that gives us so much,” said Khan. “The City of Hattiesburg is a very special place. Every business, establishment, and person are so incredibly supportive of the student body here, and I feel that one way we can show appreciation for all their love and support is by volunteering and coming together as one.”

To volunteer for this year’s Big Event, visit, or email Hannah Khan at Hannah.KhanFREEMississippi, or Gulf Park Student Affairs Coordinator Jessica Langston at Jessica.LangstonFREEMississippi