Alternative Spring Break students help the less fortunate
By Josh Newby, University Communications
Instead of relaxing at the beach, socializing with friends or catching up on studying, a group of 11 students at the University of West Florida decided to help those less fortunate in Central Florida over the course of their spring break.
The UWF Alternative Spring Break program is part of “Break Away: The Alternative Break Connection,” a non-profit organization that seeks to train, assist and connect campuses and communities in promoting quality alternative break programs that inspire active citizenship.
“The Alternative Spring Break trips allow students to make a positive difference through service, while also learning about the social issues and communities served in their site selection and travels,” said Tiffany Jurey, the university advisor for the ASB. “Participation also enhances students’ commitment to lifelong service and allows them to form connections to communities, both locally and regionally, where they can make a difference.”
The UWF team headed to the Orlando area March 12 through 19 and volunteered at different places each day. On Monday, they assisted Mustard Seed of Central Florida by sorting clothing, furnishings and food donations. The organization helps people recover their lives after their homes have suffered a disaster.
The following two days were spent helping the Orlando Museum of Art renovate exhibits and help with general maintenance of the facilities. On Thursday, the team helped Hands on Orlando, a volunteering organization that puts on various fund-raising and community-enriching events throughout the year.
“We helped them with two activities,” said Jody Winters, the ASB president. “We sorted clothing and food for the homeless, as well as helped coordinate a game night at the battered women and children’s center.”
Finally on Friday, they helped clean up various parks before returning home the following day. Various members of the team said that the experience was enriching and several added that they hope to participate again in the future.
“Instead of sitting around at home and relaxing during my time off, I decided that I could use my spring break to help people,” said Talia Smith, a first-time participant with ASB. “Also, I love to help people and work with Volunteer UWF! with any of their projects. I look forward to doing it again next year.”
“Volunteer work like this is very precious to me and gives me an opportunity to help others and benefit the whole community,” said Chen. “If people will benefit from what we are doing, we should be happy to do it.”
The purpose of the ASB is to inspire students to become more generous and aware members of society once returning to Pensacola. “Ideally, students will become more ‘active citizens’ once they return to the Pensacola community,” said Jurey.
For more information on the Alternative Spring Break program at UWF, visit http://uwf.edu/volunteer/.