About 800 Southeastern Louisiana University students came together March and picked up rakes, shovels, paint brushes and other tools to participate in the university’s third annual community service day called “The Big Event.”

After gathering at 8 a.m. in the War Memorial Student Union Mall, the students — all dressed in bright yellow Big Event-3 T-shirts — gathered in teams to hit more than 50 sites in the area where they performed a wide range of chores from landscaping, to trash pickups, to painting.

Southeastern President John L. Crain greeted the assembled students from the Student Union balcony, congratulating them on their dedication and commending them on their strong commitment to community service.

Their efforts, he said, demonstrate to the community the belief the university’s students have in giving back and have helped the university earn a three-year consecutive presence on the national President’s Honor Roll for Community Service.

The sites included area elementary, middle and high schools, St. Albert’s Catholic Student Center, Serenity House, Hammond Headstart, the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center and numerous locations on the campus itself.

Child Advocacy Services coordinator Lori Banks watched as students and staff worked on the organization’s buildings and grounds, sprucing up the playground and painting offices.

“We have a great relationship with Southeastern, utilizing their students in counseling and social work as interns,” Banks said. “But as a nonprofit organization, we don’t have the funds to do the kind of extra work that these students are providing today.”

“It’s great to see this many students pulling together and making short work of some big jobs,” said Student Government Association president Branden Summers, as he handed out cold water to students laying sod and planting azaleas on the campus. The Big Event is sponsored by the Southeastern SGA.

The Big Event started at Texas A&M university 30 years ago and has spread to universities nationwide. It is considered one of the largest service days among college students, school officials said.