Big Event Volunteers Make a Big Difference in the Fort Worth Community

March 5, 2018

"​For me, the Big Event is the one big opportunity to ... actually make a difference in the lives of the people who live in our community."
-- Prof. John Murphy, Aggie Law Big Event volunteer 
Big Event 2018 Dwain MayfieldDwain Mayfield '59 (center)
Big Event 2018 Community FoodbankAggie Law Big Event volunteers at Community Food Bank

Rainy weather did not deter law students, faculty, staff and their family members from participating in the law school's fifth annual Big Event on Saturday, February 24. Volunteers put into practice the Aggie core value of selfless service by giving back and saying thank you to the Fort Worth community.

Dwain Mayfield, Aggie class of ’59, kicked off the day by sharing the history of the Big Event at Texas A&M and the importance of exemplifying the Aggie core values.

The volunteers then divided into teams to fan out across Fort Worth on community service projects. The volunteer locations included Morningside Elementary, One Safe Place, Catholic Charities Donation Center, Community Food Bank, Fort Worth Graffiti Abatement Program, and the Historic Allen Chapel.

Big Event 2018 Matt Thorne-Thomsen2L Mark Thorne-Thomsen (center, in jacket), 2018 Aggie Law Big Event organizer, and fellow volunteers at Morningside Elementary

2L student and this year’s Law School Big Event organizer Mark Thorne-Thomsen said volunteering and giving back to the community has always been a personal mission.

“I did a lot of volunteering in undergrad and before starting law school. The great thing about Texas A&M Law is that we’ve been given a creative outlet as students to reach out to the community however we want to. The Big Event embodies that. We have been reaching out to organizations in the area to see if they need help today or even during the week,” said Thorne-Thomsen.


Thorne-Thomsen worked at Morningside Elementary, which the Law School “adopted” last year. Volunteers gave the student lockers a special paint job – college logos – to inspire and motivate the students to set goals and work towards the future. Thorne-Thomsen and a dedicated crew of students spent hours in the weeks before the one-day Big Event at​ Morningside outlining the logos to be painted​.

“It’s great to see the kids light up when they see all the collegiate logos on their lockers,” said Thorne-Thomsen.

Big Event 2018 Morningside Elem.The locker-painting project in full swing at Morningside Elementary
Big Event 2018 John MurphyProf. John Murphy and students ​sprucing up Morningside Elementary with collegiate colors

Professor John Murphy, who also volunteered at Morningside Elementary, believes community involvement is vital.

“When we are at the law school just doing our law school thing, we are not involved with the greater community. It is easy to lose sight that we are a part of the greater community,” said Murphy.

“Selfless service is one of our core values, and as attorneys, it is even more important for us to be involved with the community on a daily basis. For me, the Big Event is the one big opportunity over the course of the year to really come out, stop doing what we are doing in the ivory tower, and actually make a difference in the lives of the people who live in our community,” said Murphy.

Cara Sitton, a second-year, part-time law student and staff member at the law school, said the Big Event is an Aggie tradition that she is happy to share with her family.

Big Event 2018 One Safe PlaceDecorating "hope rocks" for the garden at One Safe Place

“I don’t have ​a Texas A&M undergraduate degree so I did not understand the core values until I started here. I think A&M core values are quite amazing. Getting involved in the community is something that they encourage, and I think it is very important to share these values with my family. I am so thankful that I am able to be a part of this wonderful institution,” Sitton said.

Sitton and her family, along with more than 20 volunteers, spent time working at One Safe Place in Fort Worth. The volunteers created cards and decorated “hope rocks” for the center’s children, most of whom are the victims of abuse. The volunteers also brightened up the center’s day care area with a new coat of paint.

Big Event 2018 Newman CCFWProf. Neal Newman and students on the furniture assembly crew at Creating Hope Donation Center. The furniture will go to needy families in the area.

Other volunteers, such as Professor Neal Newman, worked with Catholic Charities of Fort Worth at the Creating Hope Donation Center. The Aggie team assembled home furnishings, a project that takes a lot of time for their limited staff to ​tackle. The completed household items, along with basic necessities, will be made available to families in need, ​helping to make their house a home.

“We just brought our army, our A&M crew, and we are putting together furniture at a rapid rate. We are highly skilled and getting it done,” Newman said.

Big Event 2018 Catholic CharitiesThe Aggie Law ​volunteer group at Catholic Charities of Fort Worth Creating Hope Donation Center

About the Big Event

The Big EventThe Big Event is an Aggie tradition. Now the largest one-day, student-run service project in the nation, the Big Event started at the College Station campus in 1982 with six Aggie undergraduate students. In 201​7, more than 22,​500 Aggies participated system-wide. The Big Event has expanded across the country and around the globe with 1​25 other schools in the United States and schools in Europe, Australia and Pakistan participating. Learn more.

Exemplifying the Aggie core value of selfless service, The Big Event provides students, faculty, staff and their families with the opportunity to give back to the community in order to thank them for their support of the school.

The Big Event is organized and run by students.

Big Event 2018 Allen ChapelOver ​140 law school students, faculty, staff and their families volunteered for the 2018 Aggie Law Big Event. This group helped out at the Historic Allen Chapel. "Together we can" is right.

More photos available on our Facebook album. More interviews available on Facebook.

- Article by Tyra Kelly, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law