700 volunteers clean 100 yards with Big Event

Sophomore Brady Petty, left, and senior Tristan Koger of Rio Rancho High School clean a yard as part of The Big Event on Nov. 23. Photo by Amy Byres.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — For the 12th year, Rio Rancho High School ran The Big Event on Nov. 23, cleaning dozens of residents’ yards.

This year, 13 buses left RRHS filled with over 600 students and about 100 adult volunteers. They spread out to over 100 homes in Rio Rancho to help neighbors, loved ones and community members.

RRHS Activities Director Bill Duncan helps organize this massive operation.

“Every year we have been able to grow. So, I think that my fondest memory is just every year getting to do this and see some of the same people and talking to some of the residents that we’ve been helping out almost all 12 years,” Duncan said. “The stories that I hear come back are some of the things that really keep me going and keep me inspired.”

Duncan recalled the first year RRHS organized this event: About 50 students volunteered and brought their own rakes and shovels. Through the years RRHS has accumulated over 600 rakes, 72 gardening hoes, 23 shovels and 35 hedge clippers.

RRHS Associated Students break into teams to tackle this project every year. Their classroom is filled wall to wall with maps, goals and everything else one needs to run this operation.

Residents can apply to have their yards cleaned by filling out an application available on the RRPS website before October.

RRHS senior class president Quincy Sander looks forward to this annual event.

“It’s something to show that this council is working hard to get stuff done day after day,” Sander said.

Yong adults carry a stereotype of being lazy, but Rio Rancho students prove this false, Sander said.

“We show our community that we can pull something like this off, going out and helping 100 people that need some help around city and get 600 kids to come out and do it for free and do it for fun — it’s just something to show that we care.”

RRHS nurse Julie Lords has been participating in the big event since its birth. Over the years she has enjoyed watching students interact with the people they help, she said.

“One year we did it for a vet and he had mobility issues, so in cleaning the yard, he couldn’t get it done. And the kids were talking to him and he told stories and stuff, and so that was really neat to watch and do, so that makes you feel good,” Lords said.

Rio Rancho resident Beth Miller had volunteers clean her backyard.

“These kids are all wonderful, and my kids are grown and gone, so I just really like having young people around and they have great attitudes and are always very nice,” Miller said.

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