Nearly 5,000 Texas State students braved a cold, early morning on Saturday to help the town they call home during the record-breaking 14th annual Bobcat Build.
Bobcat Build is an annual event where Texas State students volunteer to work on job sites to help the local community. Volunteers are assigned to job sites, where they help San Martians with anything from yardwork to repairing homes.
There was an enormous increase in job site requests since previous years, in part due to the Memorial Day weekend floods last May, said Emily Lund, Bobcat Build co-chair.
“We have about 4,700 volunteers this year and about 300 job sites, which is more than we ever had before,” Lund said.
There was a 20-job site increase per year, Lund said, but this year Bobcat Build leaders saw 60 new job sites.
Bobcat Build began in 2002 as a way for students to give back to the San Marcos community. Lund said the primary goal of Bobcat Build is to strengthen the relationship between the student body and the city of San Marcos.
“Things can get a little crazy between the students and the homeowners living side-by-side,” said Lund.
Lund said the event is an opportunity for students to help the community and erase any negative stereotypes associated with college students.
“We may be a college town, but that is a good thing,” Lund said, “That should be an opportunity for us to be able to help them and use our youth and use our strong muscles to really do something for them.”
Lund hopes the students who participate in Bobcat Build learn to appreciate San Marcos and learn to give back. Bobcat Build assists the San Marcos community by providing a helping hand.
“Especially with the floods and things that have affected this community lately, this is an opportunity for a lot of them to get the help they have been searching for,” Lund said.
Lund said by helping locals, students may think twice about their behavior.
“If they know that they spent three hours in the hot sun raking leaves for some old lady, they may drive slower in that neighborhood, or take somebody’s trash cans in if they are their neighbor,” Lund said.
Hannah Summerlin, Spanish graduate student, got her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University, which hosts a similar program called Big Event. Bobcat Build was based on A&M’s event.
“I had a good time (at Big Event) giving back, so I wanted to do it here too,” Summerlin said.
Students participate in Bobcat Build for many reasons. Ashley Carrington, theater senior, took part as a part of Alpha Psi Omega, the co-ed theater fraternity.
“I’m looking to help people who have been devastated by the floods or who need help because of sickness,” Carrington said. “I think that (is) the great thing about Bobcat Build.”