Shepherd students volunteer for Alternative Spring Break
One highlight of the college semester is spring and fall break, where students get a brief time-off from classes. While many students head home or to the beach during spring break, a number of students from Shepherd University will spend that time on Alternative Spring Break performing community service locally and in other states.
Fifteen students have signed up to travel to Lexington, North Carolina, and another 10 will go to Carneys Point, New Jersey, the week of March 16-20. Rachel Crum, Shepherd community service and service learning coordinator, said each group will work with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.
“I know there’s going to be some remodeling and reconstruction of existing homes, and hopefully they’ve broken ground on some new builds,” Crum said.
Shepherd has offered Alternative Spring Break since 2002. An Alternative Fall Break was added in 2012. Crum said over the years more than 260 students have participated in the program. The last time Shepherd students traveled to New Jersey was about six or seven years ago, but for about three years in a row they’ve gone to the Lexington area. Crum expects they’ll get a warm reception when they show up again this year.
“We have a very strong partnership with the Lexington Habitat affiliate,” she said. “When we go to Lexington there are signs in local stores and businesses saying ‘welcome Shepherd students.’ We have left a lasting impression on that community. Our students have made a positive impact and we have made a name for ourselves by making a difference in just five short days.”
But students don’t have to travel out of town to perform community service during spring break. Those staying on campus or living in the local community can also volunteer for the Local Alternative Spring Break, which began in 2010. They will help with projects at the Boys and Girls Club of Martinsburg, Jefferson County Community Ministries, Good Shepherd Interfaith Caregivers, and Horses With Hearts. There’s also an opportunity to help judge the Eastern Panhandle Junior Regional Science Fair on Tuesday, March 17.
While all the slots for the out-of-town Alternative Spring Break trips are filled, Crum said students can sign up to help locally until Friday, March 13. Crum said as many as 25 students are welcome to volunteer.
Whether they leave town or stay here, Crum said Alternative Spring Break gives students an opportunity to participate in community service without worrying about having to go to class.
“Some students don’t have the luxury of having the free time during the academic year,” she said. “Maybe they work, have a full course load, or their academic studies keep them busy all day long. So when we have a spring break or a fall break they really take advantage of giving back to the community because it’s something that they’re passionate about.”
Students interested in offering service during the local Alternative Spring Break can contact Melissa Hilleary at email@example.com or sign up on RamPulse.