RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Instead of sleeping in this weekend, students from Rio Rancho High School picked up their shovels and rakes and got to work cleaning the yards of people in need.
“They get a chance to meet people in their community they usually wouldn’t… they get a chance to serve people that need service.”Bill Duncan, RRHS Activities Director
It was all part of the student council’s 12th annual Big Event, a day of service where students do odd jobs for their neighbors. This year, more than 600 students volunteered to spend the day cleaning up the yards of 100 homes in Rio Rancho.
Applications open each October through the Rio Rancho High School website and households are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Money for gardening tools, cleaning supplies, and first aid kits are raised through donations and from a percentage of the money made at the high school dances. The Rio Rancho Public School district supplies transportation and helps pay for a free lunch for students and their team leaders at the end of the day.
Students we spoke with say The Big Event has taught them the importance of community and gives them a chance to meet new people.
“Help your neighbor, help someone you know, even if you don’t know them, help a stranger out.”Cal Raki, RRHS Sophomore
Teachers involved in the program say it’s a great way for kids to meet people in their community they otherwise wouldn’t and lets the community see the quality of students their tax dollars are paying to educate.
“I think a lot of times there’s the stereotype that they’re lazy and that they don’t want to work, but we’ve got some 650 odd kids out here that are going to do work at a stranger’s house.”Bill Duncan, RRHS Activities Director
Homeowner Beth Miller says she’s been participating in the program for the last four years. Last year, she had a student from the Zuni Pueblo come to her house for The Big Event, who helped teach her how to prepare her plants for winter, so they’d have an earlier bloom in spring.
“That was something from her culture and I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool, I didn’t know about that.'”Beth Miller, Homeowner
To learn more about Rio Rancho High School’s Big Event, click here.