University of Louisiana at Lafayette students swarmed across Acadiana early Saturday as they worked in teams to conquer community service projects.
More than 2,900 UL-Lafayette students in red T-shirts planted trees at schools in St. Martinville, picked up litter around the Acadiana Mall and tackled a variety of other projects as part of the university’s third annual Big Event.
The event also afforded students an opportunity to explore parts of the Acadiana region that they may not have been familiar with before Saturday.
At the Early Learning Center in St. Martinville, Hannah Dardar, a junior accounting major, said she never would have known about the center had she not participated in the event.
“It’s good to be able to come over here and be able to get to know people in our community,” she said.
Angie Sand, a kindergarten teacher at the learning center, gestured to the open grassy area in between buildings of the school that had dirt mounds from where some old oak trees used to stand.
“We had some big, beautiful trees here,” she said. “They were cut down because they said they were interfering with drainage and this, that and other. So we were all appalled at how ugly it is now, so we got together and said, ‘Let’s try to improve it.’ ”
The Big Event was a great way to give back to the community and to get work done, Dardar said. She, along with five students she mentors, planted nearly 10 new crepe myrtles at the school.
Also helping plant trees at the Early Learning Center was Devin Cochran, a senior in journalism who founded a volunteer group with his coworkers. As Cochran’s third year participating in the Big Event, he was no stranger to community service.
“I was pretty active in my community before I came to college, so I just wanted to take up the opportunity to give back to the community of Lafayette,” Cochran said.
Many students were motivated to get involved with the Big Event this year because of the positive experiences they’ve had in the past with community service.
Kailey Broussard, a sophomore in information science and journalism, said her mentor last year inspired her to become a mentor herself and tackle the Big Event with a freshman group of her own. She, along with a group of nearly 20 people, picked up litter from the area called Target Loop, which runs near the Acadiana Mall.
“I don’t know a lot of teenagers that would give up their Saturdays to come out and dig, so I think this is wonderful,” Sand said.