Students combine service with sun for alternative break club

Nearly 100 students to devote spring break to helping those less fortunate | March 1, 2004

While many college students are hitting the beaches this spring break, a growing number of Xavier undergraduates is setting a new standard for spring break activity. During the week of Feb. 28 through March 6, nearly 100 students are traveling to eight different locations to perform service work as part of the alternative break club.

The club's mission is to provide low-cost service opportunities for students, faculty and staff members during spring break and early summer. It was formed in 2001, when 40 participants traveled to three service locations.

Now in its third year, the alternative break club has grown significantly, offering spring service trips to Maryland, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Ukraine. In addition, two trips are departing in early May for El Salvador and Peru.

Among the students' missions are working to combat hunger and homelessness, addressing HIV/AIDS health concerns, assisting with housing development, and focusing on the issues of Native American poverty, drug and alcohol addictions, education, and problems at the border of the United States and Mexico.

Regardless of their mission and location, alternative break participants' three common goals are service, education and reflection. Pre- and post-break meetings ensure that participants are informed and prepared for their service.

"While the service during break is important, alternative break also encourages participants to bring their knowledge and experience back to the Cincinnati community and continue to work for change at home," says Amanda Corzine, Xavier senior and alternative break club chair.

Some club members are using unique ways to raise money for their trip. One student, Jackie Kaminski, is going to Alabama to do community service with HIV/AIDS patients. Kaminski looked for sponsors to help fund her travel, food and housing via an e-mail titled "Adopt a Spring Breaker." For a $5 donation anyone can "adopt" Kaminski, who is sending all contributors a postcard during her trip.

For more information about alternative break, contact Thomas Sheibley, associate director of peace and justice programs, at 513 745-3580.