Skip to main content
Natalie Pope Profile

Natalie Pope

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

an SFU event
A really cool realization I had that night, is that volunteers are absolutely amazing. The volunteers that came out on the night of Trick or Eat were ready to help and were excited to the point where I was really surprised and impressed.

I’ve done a few events in my past, but they were always small scale or I did not play a hugely critical role in the planning of the event.  As the SFU Food Bank Coordinator, I took on Trick or Eat. Trick or Eat is a nationwide event where volunteers go to houses and collect canned goods on Halloween, instead of candy.  I was absolutely serious about doing an amazing job with this event, and Trick or Eat quickly became my “baby”. For half of September and all of October, I basically lived and breathed, “trick or eat”.

Events take a lot of planning, and the bigger the event is the more details you need to plan.  So, how did I tackle this huge event?

1. Make a Plan

One thing that has been consistently important in my (minimal) event planning experience is to outline a plan.  If you are preparing for “big” events like Trick or Eat, tradeshows, or an event run by a large organization, they will often supply you with a timeline, which is really helpful! This timeline will typically outline the deadlines that you need to meet, and it might cost you if you don’t pay attention to it.  IE: You might be charged more for signing up for something late, you might not get the materials you need, etc.

Whether you use a timeline, a to-do list, or your amazing brain, you need to know how you are going to prepare for your event.  I personally found it helpful to use the timeline that was provided by Trick or Eat, and combined it with other things that I needed to do specifically for my event.  I also had a daily to-do list, which I found helped to keep me on track.  With this event, I made sure to do things early, giving me ample time to prepare.  From promoting the event, recruiting volunteers, contacting new sponsors, and working out the logistics of the night, there is a lot to think about and a lot to do.  So the best possible advice I can give you is to start early!

2. Delegate

When it comes to event planning - no matter how much of a superstar you may be, I suggest delegating tasks if you can.  I was so fortunate to work with an amazing team of Food Bank Assistants and they were able to help me SO much for this event.  In my “planning” phase, I sorted out roles that I needed help with.  For instance, we needed people to help register volunteers at the event, or a couple “drop off” points for all of the donations we collected, and we also needed a photographer.  This really made a huge difference in the organization of the event, because I was not doing everything and running around like a crazy person.  I was only running around like a mildly crazy person!   

3. Execute

On Halloween morning I dawned my Panda costume and I felt pretty darn ready!  I thought I had planned out every incremental detail and felt like the event should run smoothly.  The fabulous Food Bank team knew their roles and were incredibly enthusiastic.  The volunteers that signed up for the event were also really excited, and did a great job!

Natalie wearing a costume at work

What Did I Learn?

I learned a couple of lessons that night.  The first was a reminder that events never go as planned.  There were a few details I didn’t think of, as prepared as I thought I would be.  But, with all events, you need to roll with the punches, and just go with the flow.  Just remember that sometimes there are unexpected situations that will happen, and you are just going to have to make do.  So, basically events will keep you on your toes!

A really cool realization I had that night, is that volunteers are absolutely amazing.  The volunteers that came out on the night of Trick or Eat were ready to help and were excited to the point where I was really surprised and impressed.  I had volunteers ask for more routes to collect donations, I had a volunteer tell me she looked up her route on Google maps the night before so she would lead her team well, and I had another volunteer tell me “give me the longest route!”.  Who knows, this excitement, may have partially been spurned by the competition for whichever team collects the most donations, but I think it’s because these volunteers wanted to help out for a great cause.  This is what impressed me the most.


As a result, our 50+ team of volunteers visited over 500 houses to collect over 500lbs of donations.  (Apparently, we liked working with deviations of 50 this Halloween).  We had some amazing volunteers, an amazing Food Bank Team leading the event, and our time was well spent for a good cause.

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Natalie Pope Profile

Natalie Pope

SFU Co-op Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn or Twitter

Natalie is a Communications and English graduate with a love for writing and learning. In the midst of her first co-op workterm as a marketing assistant, where she learned many practical skills and life lessons that inspired her to write this blog series. She volunteered at SFU as an Orientation Leader, and a FCAT Mentor.
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.


person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.


You Might Like These... Your Next Co-op

Six people standing in front of a banner and table
Fake It Till You Make It

“Business courses helped me with workplace etiquette, while Communication courses allowed me to develop different perspectives.” Human Resources student Tabraiz reveals the hidden benefits of applying to jobs outside of your major and gaining a unique, mix-matched skillset.

Kendra teaching a class
How I Stepped Out of my Comfort Zone and Embraced Life Abroad

Looking to maximize your time abroad and integrate with locals, but nervous to take the first few steps? Read on to learn how Kendra broke through their personal barriers, and the advice they have for future travellers to make the most of their work term overseas.

picture of a lighthouse in the distance
Canadian Co-op Adventure

Tired of the same ol Vancouver scene?  Want to travel, but think you cant because your student bank account is plummeting somewhere in the negatives?  If you said yes to both these questions, sounds like youre suffering from a classic case of travel bug blues.  But dont worry, theres a simple solution to your ailment.  Start searching for co-op jobs out of town!