Alternative Fall and Spring Breaks: helping out while on vacation

Abbey Haldeman, Staff Writer

Have you ever wanted to do something genuinely nice for someone or a group of people, but just weren’t sure how to go about it?  Well, Wilkes University Alternative Fall and Spring breaks can help you out with this ambition.

Every year during both the fall and spring breaks Campus Interfaith and the office of Community Service sponsors a trip or more, but not just any type of trip.  This particular group of six to 12 students, along with faculty advisers, travels to different places domestically and internationally, often with other organizations, to help out.

Each year the group takes two international trips and two domestic trips.  On previous trips they have worked in areas affected by natural disasters or those in which are in need of educational help.

While working alongside other organizations or alone, students do things such as home renovations, repairs, rebuilds, organizing, cleaning and educating. At one point the group built a house from the ground up because it was deemed less expensive than renovating.

For this year’s alternative fall break activity a group of students traveled to the Ronald McDonald House of Scranton Pa, on Oct. 13-15, where they helped to clean and rearrange the basement of the house in preparation for an inspection the building is undergoing.

The international trips can take students to places such as the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.  When students travel to the Dominican Republic they stay in orphanages and help teach elementary age students there.  In Costa Rica they have the ability to work alongside coffee farmers.

Campus Interfaith Coordinator Caitlin Czeh, who serves as an adviser for the spring trips and coordinator for fall said, the students finance their own trips.

“The Domestic trips often end up being the cheaper of the two volunteer efforts, but trips can cost anywhere from $250-$450,” Czeh said.

For Alternative Spring Break this year, students will be traveling to Kentucky where they will work with a Christian organization, the Dominican Republic where they will be working at an orphanage, Joplin, MS to help out with relief from last year’s tornado and Costa Rica, where they will be helping re-vitalize a school and learn about the coffee industry.  The trips take place during the week of March 3- March 10, 2012.