The service alternative: Students give back on break
By Megan Sexton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-1421
It’s been nearly two years since a tornado tore through Tuscaloosa, Ala., but Jacob Nelson knows there is still work to be done.
The University of South Carolina student is leading a group of Carolina students on an alternative spring break trip to continue rebuilding the Alabama community. He is one of more than 80 USC students on seven spring break trips sponsored by Carolina’s Community Service Programs office. Students will be doing everything from rebuilding boardwalks along the Jersey Shore torn apart by Hurricane Sandy to feeding the hungry in Florida to continuing to rebuild the battered historic Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
“Alternative break trips are an important beyond-the-classroom experience for students,” said Theresa Harrison, coordinator of USC Community Service Programs. “Students are able to explore a rural community or urban environment that may be different than what they are used to, while also providing valuable service to that local community.”
For Nelson, a senior biology major from Illinois who went on the USC alternative spring break trip to Tuscaloosa last year, the trip offers a chance to see the difference volunteers are making in the community. Because the tornadoes hit in April 2011, many people think the need for volunteers has gone away, “but there is still so much work to be done,” he said.
“Last year there were blocks just leveled. We’d be cleaning up the lots and find things like a child’s toy buried in the rubble. It really brought out the human aspect of the disaster. This year, we’ll be working to put up new places for people to live.”
The largest group – 25 – are heading to the New Jersey coast to help with hurricane cleanup. “We saw Hurricane Sandy as an opportunity to get more students involved and see first-hand how we can help in an immediate disaster,” Harrison said.
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