Mid-March is coming. This is a special time of year that college students around America know as Spring Break. For many people, the words “Spring Break” trigger images of a wild party of hooligans drinking as if it were the end of the world, moshing about in an endless sea of lacrosse shirts and Oakley glasses. Many students will spend their spring breaks doing just that in Panama City, Daytona, and most of the state of South Carolina, but more and more students are doing something else during their week off.
The idea of an “alternative spring break” has been around for quite some time. These are usually programs that allow students to spend their week away from school helping victims of disasters and poverty around the country and the world. Many of these programs are led by local churches and other faith-based organizations and more and more student-run groups are being started to create rewarding, safe, and productive opportunities for American college students to volunteer their time. Hundreds of students are already helping rebuild homes and clear debris from Superstorm Sandy on the Jersey Coast while more will soon be on their way. Other groups have organized trips to help in schools and community centers around the Americas.
Alternative spring breaks became very popular after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the trend doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon. Seeing the nation’s young students getting involved in efforts to help the poor in our country and abroad is a fantastic sight, and is something to be thankful for. Volunteers in a multitude of organizations around the world continue to take all the little steps that make a real difference, and their importance cannot be understated.
– Kevin Sullivan