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April 10, 2012
By Cynthia Creek, media assistant
Ask a college student how they spent their spring break and some may reply that they relaxed on a warm, sandy beach or they spent the week catching up with family. Twenty-eight Northwest Missouri State University students spent the week volunteering.
The members of Northwest’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) student organization spent March 19-23 working with Community Collaborations International in Greenville S.C., where they participated in several community-based projects that benefitted elderly and under- privileged youth.
ASB annually gives Northwest students the opportunity to participate in a week of service-learning and volunteering within a different environment. The mission of the organization is to progressively improve the experience of true service-learning for Northwest students and successfully incorporate classroom learning in real world situations.
The group is led by Amy Nally, Northwest's director of volunteer, service learning and civic engagement, who noted the project yields strong bonds among the students who participate, in addition to unique cultural experiences.
“The Alternative Spring Break program is a great way for Northwest students to immerse themselves in real-world situations,” Nally said. “It allows the students to personally grow and develop while using their leadership skills, soft skills and education to be effective, engaged ethical citizens. I am truly blessed to watch the students achieve their goals and realize the impact they are making for themselves and others.”
During the week, the student volunteers sorted food and prepared it for distribution at Harvest Hope, mowed lawns and painted homes for residents through the volunteer organization Diligent Hands Gracious Hearts. Student volunteers also prepared and served meals with Project Host.
Each afternoon, ASB members volunteered at the Frazee Dream Center, a free preschool and afterschool program for 60 to 90 under-resourced children. ASB members played games with children, helped them with their reading and homework and served them supper.
“The most impactful part of this year’s trip was seeing people of all ages who are in unfortunate situations but still approach life with the most positive attitude and are always smiling,” said Ashley Herring, a senior public relations major from Omaha, Neb., who is active with ASB. “It puts whatever is troubling in your life into perspective and makes you realize that what may seem bad is not as bad as it seems. I learned that waking up every day determined to make each day a positive one for you or someone else is the best way to approach life.”
Founded in 2006, ASB focuses on projects involving environmental and disaster relief, Habitat for Humanity and humanitarianism. ASB previously has provided disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, La.; helped children with life-threatening illnesses in Kissimmee, Fla.; and helped with efforts to restore the coastal ecosystem affected by the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. The organization's 2010 trip to the Dominican Republic to work with Orphanage Outreach was the organization’s first outside the United States.
ASB’s service-learning trips are paid completely by fundraising projects throughout the year.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468