Along with numerous fellow students and university staff, Smith had been planning “The Big Event” for months. Finally, at nine o’clock Saturday morning, everything was in place to launch the largest community clean-up effort of the school year. And then it started to snow. Just flurries, mind you. But snow.
“I honestly can’t even believe it,” Smith said as flakes fell. “Last Saturday it was 80 degrees. Now this. Oh well, it’s still going to be a great event!”
Her optimistic tone could not have been more prophetic. More than 1,900 Towson University students — almost twice as many as last year’s total — braved cold temperatures, the snow flurries, and a very early wake-up call to make “The Big Event” the biggest and best thus far. Participants cleaned up more than 120 sites, from as close as Newell Garden to as far as Bread and Cheese Creek in Dundalk.
Interim President Timothy Chandler was on-hand Saturday morning to see the students off to their work sites, and he was noticeably impressed.
“Thank you all so much for being here, especially this early on a Saturday,” Chandler said to a sea of students on Newell Field. “When I was in college, a long, long time ago, I can tell you nine o’clock on a Saturday morning would not have seen me!”
On a more serious note, Chandler also underscored how important “The Big Event” is to the university’s ongoing “town and gown” relationships with the neighbors and businesses within walking distance of the TU campus.
“You are what make Towson University the wonderful, amazing place that it is,” Chandler told the assembled students, moments before he headed off to the next stop on his busy Saturday schedule, the softball stadium ribbon-cutting ceremony. “And we truly appreciate it.”
Neighbors who benefited from the students’ hard work were equally complimentary.
“Thank you for sponsoring ‘The Big Event’ and sending such a wonderful group of students to our home,” Ruth and Robert Cullison of Knollwood Road wrote in an e-mail to Chandler Saturday night. “This is a very creative community service event that helps to foster a positive image of Towson University students.
“The students who came to our home should be commended for representing the college in a very favorable manner,” the Cullison’s e-mail concluded.
Just after noon Saturday, hundreds of students began making their way back to Newell Field, visibly tired but also proud of the work they completed.
“This was an awesome event,” said senior Drew Voigt, another member of “The Big Event” executive board along with Smith, Stephanie Vaughn, Janelle Hartman, and staffers Corinne DeRoberts and Kelli Chapleski. “We are all so grateful for the students who came out today and for everyone who supported us. I am very proud to have been a part of it.”