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Spring Break News Wire 2010: The 'Alternative Spring Break' for College Students

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A growing number of college students have seemed to be more interested in spending their spring break in humanitarian efforts as opposed to the spring break cliché of lounging on sun-soaked beaches.

For five years, the United Way Deloitte has sponsored what is being called the ‘Alternative Spring Break,’ and now colleges and universities have jumped on board with their own alternative spring break humanitarian programs—North Carolina University, Great Falls University, and Wayne State, to name a few. (HuffingtonPost)

Hundreds of college students across the country will spend their spring break helping rebuild devastated areas in gulf states where damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is still prevalent. Others will spend their week in impoverished urban areas in American cities, while other groups will even travel abroad.

The United Way reported an estimated 12,000 hours of student volunteer contributed work last year in states such as Indiana, Louisana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas. The impact that these groups have made has been great. Some of their accomplishments have been posted on the United Way blog.

Haiti and Abroad

Many students who have been deeply effected by desolated Haiti have been enthusiastic about relief work there but, unfortunately, have not been permitted to do so as the country’s situation is still very volatile. Yet, students have found ways to lend aid state-side by collecting, packaging, and shipping supplies, Huffington Post reported.

How to Volunteer

The first step is to connect with a volunteer agency or church. Here are a few suggestions:

*NOTE: Spring break registration is now closed, but summer programs are now available for registration.

  • Break Away is a campus asset for volunteer-hungry young adults. Check and see if your college is affiliated.
  • Programs such as i-to-i allow student volunteers to search and choose from many different opportunities here and abroad.
  • Churches or local religious organization are other good volunteer resources.

Do Work Trips Cost Money?

Most volunteer vacations do cost money. Check with the respective agency for details.

A Worthy Experience

Last year, I had the opportunity to go with a group of high school students as a leader to inner city Davenport, Iowa. At first, the thought of volunteering in Iowa, of all places, was discouraging. I would have much preferred an exotic, warm island, where the lovely children greet you with flowers and necklaces. It was not the case in Iowa. It was cold, rainy, and only four hours from home.

The course of the week was spent serving the homeless, working in local urban ministries such as an amazing indoor skateboard park that worked to keep kids of the street, assisting the elderly, and encouraging the impoverished in the community. It ended up being one of the most rich and rewarding experiences of my life. I look back at Iowa with fondness, and if given the chance, I would never choose to exchange that spring break experience with any other!

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