The Daily Gamecock

Students give up break to serve

Around 30 to travel to Washington, Tenn., N.C. to aid others

While many USC students head for warmer climates over Spring Break, about 30 USC students plan to serve communities far removed from the sunny beaches of Cozumel.

Groups of about 10 students and an advisor will focus on different areas of interest while giving back to the communities of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., Murphy N.C. and Washington D.C.

“The three different locations represent three different non-profit organizations,” said Michelle Peer, USC’s program advisor for community service. “In Tennessee the students will work on conserving a part of the Cumberland Trail, while in D.C. students will focus on poverty, helping out in soup kitchens and after school programs.”

Students who participate in the North Carolina trip will focus on improving water quality and preventing pollution.

“This is a really valuable way to spend spring break,” Peer said. “We first started this program with one location, but with the growing interest every year we have expanded.”

Tiara Moore, a first-year international relations student, participated in the community service trip over Fall Break.

“We went to a Native American community in the Appalachians and helped for four days within the community,” Moore said. “You really learn how you can help and change a community.”
Moore added she made friends on this trip that she still talks with today.

“I was a freshman and so I wanted to meet new people and do community service,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone when I signed up, but I still am close with the people I traveled with.”

Stephanie Thomas, a fourth-year public relations student, went on the 2009 Atlanta Spring Break service trip.  Thomas said her favorite part of the trip was meeting the people they were helping.

“For the Habitat for Humanity trip we met the person whose house we were building, and it was nice to see that all of our hard work was really making a difference,” Thomas said.

Even with three destinations there is limited space.

“As of right now all the spots have been filled,” Peer said.

For students still interested in community service over spring break, Carolina Service Council is sponsoring a trip to Detroit.  There, students will tackle urban renewal efforts by tearing down vacant houses, planting community gardens, painting murals and working to revitalize downtown Detroit, according to USC’s website.

Applications are available online and can be submitted to the Student Life Center inside the Russell House.  That trip costs $50.

Peer said she sees a change in the students after they return from the trips.

“I see students after coming back from these trips become more motivated in helping out in the community of Columbia and also become more involved in the community service programs,” Peer said.