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Wanted: Volunteers to give back during alternative Spring Break

December 11th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Alison Ostler

MANOA, Hawaii—Fifteen Utah State University students roam Waikiki Beach clad in swimsuits and snorkel gear. But these students aren’t like most college students who raid Oahu every spring break—this is an army of volunteers set to make a difference in the Honolulu’s Manoa community.

The USU Service Center offers Alternative Breaks for spring every year, a program for students who wish to spend their Spring Break giving back. Each spring, a dozen or more students go to other states—including Hawaii—and spend a week of service instead of their usual Spring Break festivities.

This year, the group is going to Anaheim, Calif., and students who want the chance to get in on the action can sign up through Dec. 10.

Mary K. Rasmussen, the director of Alternative Breaks, calls the volunteer program a “way to have other volunteer experiences besides everyday experiences.” Although last year’s team spent the break on the world’s most famous beach, Rasmussen says the students conducted surveys and cleaned litter from Waikiki, in addition to volunteering at the Keiki O Ka ‘Aina Family Learning Center in Honolulu.

“In Hawaii, we got to explore the culture along with serving, ” said Ang Haroldson, Campus Community liaison and one of last year’s Alternative Breaks participants. “We met the wonderful people who give so much to see their community members benefit from their work. We helped protect and sustain the wildlife there.

“The main point of trip was to experience service opportunities that we couldn’t get in Utah,” Haroldson said. “We did just that, as well as meeting inspiring people that alone are making the world a better place.”

Preparations for this year’s Alternative Breaks are already under way. This year, the program plans to spend the week of March 5-12 doing service work in Anaheim, including an ecological service project at Newport Bay. They’ll also volunteer at a homeless shelter called Mercy House, take part in rehabilitating foreclosed houses in the Anaheim area, and remove graffiti.

The cost is estimated at around $350 each, but with fundraising, Rasmussen says, it is expected to be around $250.

“It’s a good deal, really,” Rasmussen said. “The fee pays for all expenses: food, lodging, travel, and we get to go to Disneyland!”

For students wanting to attend, a $100 deposit will be due by Dec. 10 to Room 326 in the TSC. If you miss deadline, however, there is still a chance go to.

“If you don’t have enough money for the deposit or need to pay later, then you can just talk to me,” Rasmussen said.

Sacrifice? No way, says Dani Satchwell, who attended Alternative Breaks last year. “I really enjoyed alternative breaks for the opportunity to help others and to have fun with great people,” she said. “It’s a fun way to understand more points of view than your own and see a new place.”

Rasmussen says that’s the whole point. “You get stories of people you met and lives you touched,” she said. “These are the things you remember the most.”

For more information about Alternative Breaks you can email Rasmussen at Alt.Breaks@aggiemail.usu.edu


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