While many students here at the College spent their spring breaks soaking up UV rays in Cancun or risking their lives on the treacherous ski slopes of Colorado, some went on trips of a more philanthropic nature. All across the nation, students were working hard throughout week on various service projects.
Students from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship here at the College went on a mission trip to Camden, New Jersey, the second poorest city in the nation and the fourth most dangerous. They worked with an organization called Urban Promise, an urban youth ministry.
“While Camden is known for the bad, we quickly became acquainted with the good. With 50% of its residents under 18, the hope of Camden lies in its children. This is where Urban Promise comes in, working to keep kids in school, off the street, and living the teachings of Christ,” said junior Catie Huennekens.
The students stayed in Camden for the full week of spring break, dividing up their time by doing service projects such as picking up trash and doing janitorial work in the morning, and in the afternoon working and playing with children from the city.
“The week we were there, the theme of the lessons was Forgiveness. I've worked with kids a lot, but these are some of the most energetic, motivated, good-natured kids I've encountered,” said Huennekens.
The 22 students who went on the trip all stayed in one small house, sharing three bedrooms, an office, a common room, and one bathroom. Despite the rough conditions, they managed to make a difference in the lives of many people as well as to have a good time themselves.
Help Unlimited, an organization here at the College, sponsored a service trip to Atlanta where students helped repair houses in low-income areas.
“We did a variety of tasks including paint scraping, painting the house exterior, yard cleanup and gardening,” said junior Jessica Kubik, co-leader of the trip.
Students who went on the Atlanta trip worked with two organizations: Rebuilding Together Atlanta and the Senior Citizen Services. The students also spent one day working on gardening for the Senior Citizen Services.
Help Unlimited also sponsored students on a trip to the Natural Tunnel State Park (which is about eight hours west of Williamsburg near Duffield, VA). The students who went on this trip worked diligently all week on landscaping, operating the gigantic “Gators” (hauling vehicles used for moving and dumping), laying out wiring for new lampposts, and whatever else the park officials needed.
“Students participating in our trip were largely vegetarian and greatly interested in natural conservation, so the group dynamics were great,” said sophomore Sean Conner, treasurer of Help Unlimited and co-leader of the trip (along with Diana Gibson).
Whether they spent the week perfecting a golden-brown tan, playing video games at home, or contributing to a service project, it seems like nearly everyone at least had an enjoyable spring break.