The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Alternative Spring Break organization spends their week volunteering

Photo by Provided

Forty-four students will spend their spring break traveling across the southern United States, performing charitable acts at Special Olympics, a food bank, a veteran’s hospital and an animal shelter.

On Saturday, March 10, the student volunteer organization Alternative Spring Break will head to four major cities across the United States for their 20th annual community service outreach program.
A record number of 44 students in the program will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas and New Orleans to spend their week off volunteering. The volunteers will be split into four groups of 11 students each and will assist with the Special Olympics, a food bank, a veteran’s hospital and an animal shelter.
Since 1999, Alternative Spring Break takes students who have a passion for community service and gives them an opportunity to serve abroad over spring break, according to Chau Dong, biomedical sciences senior and chair of the organization.
“When it originally started, students would take trips out of the country,” Dong said. “Now, we just travel around the different states.”
Alternative Spring Break has made the United States its main focus because they saw a need in many poverty stricken areas around the country, according to Priya Bandy, Alternative Spring Break trip executive and biomedical sciences junior.
“We have not traveled out of the United States since 2009 because we find it important to help at home,” Bandy said. “There are many areas in poverty that do need our assistance around the U.S.”
Having site leaders and a staff advisor who knows what they are doing is very important, according to Annie Montgomery, site leader, staff advisor trainer and wildlife and fisheries science senior.
“The trained site leaders and staff advisor are responsible for the 11 students on the trip,” Montgomery said. “Their ability to relay information to the group about where to be at what time, money and housing is very important.”
Bandy said the Special Olympics in Tulsa needed help making their program run smoothly, so Alternative Spring Break got involved.
“Tulsa stood out to me the most because of how responsive they were,” Bandy said. “They were in such a need of assistance and were so happy to hear that we could help with their Special Olympics and their St. Patrick’s Day fun run.”
Bandy said the food bank located in Memphis was very excited to have Alternative Spring Break back again to volunteer.
“We already took this trip in 2015 and it was a huge success,” Bandy said. “The students that took that trip loved it and the food bank was very responsive and happy to have us again.”
It can be difficult to find hospitals which would allow Alternative Spring Break students to volunteer because of the short time period they are able to work, Bandy said.
“Many hospitals like their volunteers to stay longer than a week, so it can be hard to find somewhere that would be happy to have us,” Bandy said. “The Veteran’s Hospital in Little Rock was very responsive and was willing to have us with our size and short period of time we would be spending there.”
Service projects such as these are important opportunities for students to take advantage of, according to Dong.
“Alternative Spring Break is open to a lot of service locally as well,” Dong said. “We like to say, ‘Devote yourself to the community around you.’”

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