Here at Texas State University, we take pride in our close-knit community. Texas State and San Marcos have a symbiotic relationship, just as the San Marcos River and the animals that call it home do. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish off-campus from on-campus as the campus likes to inhibit random buildings around the city, even far away from central campus. Because of this close relationship with our surrounding town, we like to give back and dedicate a day of service to the residents of San Marcos. This day is known as Bobcat Build.
Bobcat Build was started in 2002 and was inspired by Texas A&M University’s Big Event. Today, Bobcat Build is the second largest one-day community service project in the state of Texas, only shadowed by A&M’s service day. Bobcat Build continues to grow each year and had over 4,000 volunteers this past year.
I participate in Bobcat Build every year as a Terry Scholar. This year was no different and I arrived at the Strahan Coliseum Parking Lot before 8:00am, ready to work.
This year, the morning was pretty chilly. I had originally put on some jeans to keep myself from freezing during the hour or two that we’d be waiting before the actual event started, but I was talked into changing into shorts to prepare for the warmer temperatures that were sure to arise as the day went by. I was grateful for the shorts later when we started working and the temperatures started rising, but that morning was so cold. All of the Terrys were huddled up trying to absorb each other’s body heat. Bobcat Build gives everyone a free t-shirt and I gladly wore it over the t-shirt I had already been wearing. The shirts were Terry Blue, too, and I already had a Terry Blue shirt on.
We all got up really early to arrive at the parking lot on time. I only had about two or three hours of sleep the night before, but surprisingly I wasn’t that tired. I was just cold! Thankfully because we arrived so early we skipped all the lines for registration, t-shirts, and food. We actually started the line for food! Kellie felt so proud of herself.
After eating a very light breakfast and claiming our shirts…the standing and waiting began. Again, because we were early, we had priority and claimed the spot right in front of the stage. Every year Bobcat Build takes a giant picture of all of the volunteers, and we wanted to be front and center. Music started shortly afterwards, but that was about it. After about an hour and a half of standing around, the speeches started.
A few of the Bobcat Build officers spoke, thanking all of us for volunteering and explaining how Bobcat Build has grown over the years. The President of Texas State spoke, expressing her gratitude toward the student body for helping with this event. The mayor of San Marcos also gave a quick speech, thanking all of us for giving up a Saturday in order to help “Keep San Marcos Beautiful.”
After the speeches, everyone grabbed some tools and drove off to their job sites. Every year that I have done Bobcat Build, we’ve always ended up with a San Marcos resident’s yard work and it was no different this year. After finding the site, we pulled up and met the homeowner. Our homeowner was Kay, a Texas State political science professor who was no longer able to finish all of her yard work, along with her disabled husband. She was an incredibly friendly woman and she had a beautiful home set on a one acre yard.
Mrs. Kay served us breakfast as soon as we arrived composed of pigs in a blanket and cinnamon rolls. After making sure we had eaten and were ready to work, she explained the day’s agenda, asking us to clear out her flower beds of weeds and leaves, then spread new mulch.
It didn’t sound like that much work, but it took us hours to complete!
The rest of the day was spent raking up leaves, pulling weeds, and shoveling the leaves into garbage bags. There were so many leaves that we ran out of trash bags and had to run to the store to pick up more. I ended up having a hypoglycemic attack while raking and had to sit down and eat before I was going to pass out from low blood sugar. Mrs. Kay helped me find food and rebuild my energy before I returned to work.
Once we had most of the leaves and weeds cleared from the beds, we all gathered in the kitchen for a warm, home-cooked lunch. Mrs. Kay cooked an entire ham for us, along with making lemonade and other goods. I love ham, so I was quite pleased with our meal.
After lunch, everyone went back to work, filling the beds with new, fresh mulch. There were two mulch piles, one in the front yard and one on the driveway and it took hours to shovel mulch into the single wheelbarrow we had to work with and bring it to the beds to spread about.
Finally, late in the afternoon, we were complete! We had bagged over 30 leaves and spread new mulch within all of her large flower beds.
Helen packed her car with as many garbage bags full of leaves as she could to take back to Texas State’s agricultural department to recycle, but the rest of the bags had to be thrown by the side of the road for trash pick-up. After creating a mountain of trash bags, we all took a picture around our hard work.
We had completely used up the mulch pile in the front yard, but the one in the driveway was still substantial. Jaylon and Jake couldn’t resist the urge to jump into the mulch and wrestle about, trying to smear it in each other’s faces.
I couldn’t believe they did that!
As the afternoon came to an end, we all wished Mrs. Kay goodbye and began to leave the site. It was another successful Bobcat Build, giving back to the San Marcos community!