COLLEGE STATION, March 11, 2011 – Mention the words “college students” and “spring break” and most people think of crowded beaches filled with students in tiny bathing suits partying all day and all night. Not so with many Texas A&M University students. The Aggie tradition of spending spring break – scheduled Monday through Friday (March 14-18) – working on service projects is more popular than ever.
Several groups of Aggies – known for having a strong tradition of community service – will pay their own way to travel to various places around the country next week and volunteer their services to help those in need by participating in Texas A&M’s “Alternative Spring Break.”
Other Aggie groups will be participating in foreign conservation and faith-based projects.
“Alternative Spring Break” is just what it sounds like, say officials with the Department of Student Activities. It’s a fun and adventurous, alcohol- and drug-free alternative to the popular conception of college students partying somewhere warm and sunny during spring break, they explain.
“Alternative Spring Break” started at Texas A&M in 2000 as an alternative to the “normal” spring break. During the week, student-led trips go to different parts of the country, and each trip deals with a different social issue. Student activities advisors say the students work with community agencies to perform some needed service.
At the Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, for example, one group of students will help the staff and spend time playing with the young patients. In Knoxville, Tenn., another group will help the Knoxville Leadership Foundation with community services for a food bank, the homeless and will work at an orphanage where they will mentor children after school. Still another group will continue with an ongoing project in New Orleans where they are rebuilding hurricane damaged homes. Members of the Aggie Catholic student organization will also be in New Orleans helping a group called “Beacon of Hope,” an organization that encourages rebuilding, fosters repopulation and provides information and resources to rebuild damaged homes. They aren’t the only groups working to rebuild; a group of Aggie Greeks will pay their way to Slidell, La. to work on projects there.
Aggies have not forgotten animals in their commitment to serve the community. A group will be traveling to the Wild Animal Refuge in Valentine, Arizona, where they will work with abused exotic animals, and another group will travel to Costa Rica to aid the conservation effort for endangered sea turtles by helping to keep the beaches clean and working to increase the population by preserving sea turtle eggs.
One group will travel to Honduras to meet up with students from other colleges and help the Missionaries of Christ, a Catholic organization, provide educational materials to people in remote villages. Also in Honduras will be a group of four Aggies there to help provide free medical and dental care.
Other Aggies, individually and in groups, will work with churches, community action agencies and charities as they live the university’s core values of leadership, excellence, integrity and selfless service.
Contact: Tura King, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4670