Students volunteer time off to give back to various communities
Many USC students are volunteering to spend their spring breaks on service trips across the nation to help out with various community service projects. Students who wanted to participate in the volunteer opportunity applied during early February. The Alternative Spring Break Service Trip, which is offered by the department of Student Life, has been an ongoing tradition at USC in recent years.
The service projects are sponsored by Carolina Student Life and are offered to Washington, D.C., Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., and Murphy, N.C. Students involved are going to work on service projects specific to each area.
Michelle Peer, the program advisor for Community Service, has worked closely with the projects in the past. Peer said that this is the first year the university has offered the trips in so many different areas of the country. She credits this advancement to the growth of student interest in the project.
According to Peer, when students have returned from the trips in the past, they have had only good things to say.
“The students really feel like they have increased awareness and [gotten] to know local needs and problems,” Peer said.
She also noted that when many of the students return they encourage their friends to get involved.
While students are volunteering for the project, their housing depends on which location they choose. Carolina
Student Life tries to keep the overall costs as low as possible by housing students together in the most economical locations. Peer said that while on the trips, students will work together and stay closely with each other “for unity and for safety.”
Each trip is open to about 10 students, and slots are filled on a “first come, first served” basis. According to Peer, the slots for the trips usually fill up fairly quickly. She added that for every 10 students, there is one faculty or staff administrator going on the trip.
On the trips, the students will be participating in a variety of tasks that are related to the locations they have selected.
The service projects range from working in soup kitchens with low income families to raising natural resource awareness by helping repair the Cumberland Trail. Peer said that after these experiences, students usually come back and continue to volunteer.
There are other options available later in the year for students who will miss out on the spring break trips. The idea for two additional service trips this year stemmed from a student who participated on the Alternative Spring Break
Service Trip. These options include Detroit, Mich., and the Dominican Republic and will focus on home reconstruction and volunteering at an orphanage.