Alternative Spring Break hails to the helpers

Photo credit: Molly Putman

For people who are interested in community service, Alternative Spring Break could be the ideal way to spend spring break. Whether it is the intrigue of cultural differences and travel, or just the sensation of helping others, Alternative Spring Break is a way for helpers to spend a week of their time volunteering in a new place and adding their own touch of goodness.

[Alternative Spring Break is a] nice way for students to not just the spend the week watching Netflix and party,” Laura Barber, the Alternative Spring Break Lead said, “and make a good use of the week.”

From the applicants, ten selected students will go on a volunteer trip from March 10-17, 2018 in Houston, Texas and aid with the hurricane clean up and recovery.

“We are often very lucky with our applicants,” Heidi Shepard, Student Involvement Coordinator for Alternative Spring Break 2018, said. “We get students that have been very involved in the past or have a real interest in making that part of their college experience, doing community service.”

For this program, Student Leadership and Involvement office is partnering with Break A Difference. Founded in 2013, B.A.D is an organization that organizes volunteer trips all around the United States. Their programs revolve around working closely with the community and recognizing what they need. The program strives to make the work they do appropriate for a week’s time frame and a single group of college students.

The primary aim for the week in Houston is to aid in hurricane relief. Hurricane Harvey was the nation’s first major hurricane since 2005 and the wettest in history in the United States, severely impacting Houston, Texas. The resulting flood displaced over 42,000 people with over 180,000 homes damaged or destroyed.

“Whatever that looks like for them,” Shepard said. “Whether we’re building or cleaning or hanging out with people.”

As part of the fundraising effort, Student Leadership and Involvement office will open food booths at the upcoming Pop-Con event on Nov. 10-11. Following a Texan theme, the food booths will comprise of the Walking Tacos and Texas Grilled Cheese.

Individually, the selected candidates will start GoFundMe pages to raise awareness and the necessary funds. A silent auction will also be held the week before Valentine’s day where the public can help by donating or participating in the auction. Other crowdfunding events will be announced throughout the year.

Applications for the 2018 Alternative Spring Break officially closed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 20. It will be the 11th year for the program at UAF.

“I really hope that the students that we bring learn something about community service,” Shepard added, “and about themselves and what it means to them to give back.”

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