Gators spring into community service over break

Relaxing over spring vacation is becoming less popular here at Allegheny. With the number of choices for Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips, spring this year will be more than just fun in the sun.

For ASB this year, students applied for trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Wheeling, W.Va., Lynchburg, Va. and Ellijay, Ga.

In Washington, students will be working to help curb homelessness and hunger with an organization called Food and Friends. The Philadelphia team, meanwhile, will be working with underserved youth, specifically young adults associated with LGBTQI.

Students in Wheeling and Lynchburg will both help to solve issues of living accomodations.

The students in Wheeling will work to solve world and urban poverty issues and assist in housing rehabilitation and the team in Lynchburg will work specifically with the city’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. In Ellijay, a team will perform service at a wildlife conservation sanctuary.

According to Jamie Williams, assistant director of Community Service and Service-Learning, there were 140 applications this year for the 14 spots on each expedition, with at least three positions on each trip reserved for student coordinators and an administrator.

ASB’s popularity was obvious last year as well, with a fifth trip added to the original four that were planned in order to accommodate the large number of student applicants.

Williams, when asked how teams are chosen for these alternative spring breaks, explained that there are no specific guidelines to their selection. Instead, Williams says that a team is put together by how well they will work with one another.

“We want to select a team that has a diversity of experience that can best meet project goals, from first year students to seniors,” Williams said. “These are students who want to be a part of a team.”

Sylvia Kauffman, ’10, a student coordinator for the trip to Ellijay, who also coordinated a trip to Fredericksburg, Va. last year, considers ASB to be a truly rewarding experience.

“I have found ASB trips to be a phenomenal way to meet new people, interact with peers that you would not have otherwise come in contact with, learn about a new issue area and positively contribute your skills, knowledge and talents for a week,” Kauffman explained.

Her ASB experience last year consisted of fixing up outdoor trails and storage areas, planting trees and removing large metal spikes from wood that used to be a dam all in an effort to preserve the Rappahannock River.

Although these trips consist of hard labor, students embrace and even enjoy the challenge.

Sam Wyckoff, ’12, a member of last year’s Fredericksburg team, shared his rewarding experience.

“The community there was very hospitable and through the generosity that we received and the work we were doing we really bonded as a group,” Wyckoff said. “I probably would have never met half the people there on the trip, but by doing this hard work together for a common purpose really brought us together.”

Williams also joined an ASB team last year and emphasized the benefits of being a part of these service–based trips.

“We get to visit people in different parts of the country and meeting needs the best we can, concentrating on building communities,” she said. “ASB has been the thing to make students want to do more service.”

With the increasing popularity of these service–based trips, soon, going home for spring break will be the week’s alternative.