March 6, 2009
Instead of hitting the beach this spring break, more than 55 UNC Asheville students will fan out across the south March 7-15 to participate in four different volunteer opportunities from Asheville to Mississippi. Each year, the University offers students a number of alternate spring break options to use the week away from classes to help make the world a better place.
Several students who couldn't travel out of town for spring break approached UNC Asheville's Student Affairs Division to help them come up with a local volunteer opportunity. The resulting project will send more than 20 students into the Shiloh Community for five days of yard work and painting projects for elderly and homebound residents. The group, organized by UNC Asheville's Student Government Association, will work in conjunction with the City of Asheville's neighborhood coordinator.
Another 20 students will travel from campus to Hattiesburg, Miss., to assist with that community's rebuilding efforts following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. It is the University's third spring break service trip to the Gulf Coast. UNC Asheville students will join hundreds of other college students from across the nation for Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge, a program that provides opportunities for students to spend spring break working on houses.
During the trip, which is sponsored by UNC Asheville's Key Center for Service Learning, students will help out with a wide range of tasks, including roofing and putting up siding. UNC Asheville junior Frank Jones says he has tackled projects like this before.
"I've done relief work with church youth groups and through Boy Scouts but I've not yet worked in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina," said Jones. "I'm not sure what to expect but I'm looking forward to lending a hand in anyway I can."
Jones will keep an online journal of the weeklong trip, including personal reflections and pictures. To read about the students' efforts in Mississippi, click on http://uncahattiesburgtrip.wordpress.com/.
Some 13 students are headed to Charleston, S.C. with UNC Asheville's Baptist Student Union to lend a hand at the Metanoia Community Development Corporation and a local food bank. Metanoia Community Development Corporation is a well-respected ministry developed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina to help combat urban poverty. On the last two days of the trip, UNC Asheville students will have the opportunity to sightsee in historic downtown Charleston and worship at the first Baptist church established in the South.
Two UNC Asheville students will join other college students from the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte to perform service work in and around Murphy, N.C. Catholic Social Services Diocese of Charlotte's Office of Economic Opportunity will put the students to work on projects ranging from building restoration to sorting thrift store donations. The trip will wrap up with a stop in Cherokee to learn about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' current political structure and social issues.
UNC Asheville senior Lynn Dodge has participated in UNC Asheville's alternate spring breaks in past years and is serving as a coordinator for the trip to Mississippi this spring.
"I don't think about these activities as 'giving up' my spring break because it is something that I really want to do," said Dodge. "It's an amazing opportunity to expand our world a little bit while positively affecting other people's lives."