Ever since the late 1980's, there has been a student-led surge in interest for community service opportunities on college campuses. Students have donated their vacation time to worthy causes all over the country.
Campuses, companies, and organizations have responded to this surge by creating a variety of programs and packages to fit every student's interests and budgets. Some build schools and homes in faraway countries while others feed the homeless or run literacy programs in the United States. No matter the program, all provide great opportunities to see the world, experience a different life, and come back with a new perspective about the world around you.
If you're looking for an alternative to the normal spring break, here are a few places to look:
Campus-Sponsored Programs – Many coCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vastateparksstaff/5536386250/lleges and universities are now sponsoring volunteering gigs for spring break with hopes to not only keep their students safe but also improve the world around them. Best of all, if you go on a campus-sponsored trip, you'll be with a group of students from your school which could make some students feel more comfortable. Check with your student government or student outreach to see what programs are available. These programs fill fast to make sure you get your reservation in quick!
United Way - For years, the United Way has provided excellent and affordable alternative spring break options for college students everywhere. Not only is there a nationwide program that pulls students from all over the country, but there are countless local chapters that work with nearby universities and colleges to create programs that will benefit the local community the greatest. If the nationwide program is full (which can happen fast), check with United Way offices in your area to see if they are hosting a program.
Habitat for Humanity - If you're into building or construction, then the perfect volunteering opportunity for you is Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds houses for homeless families. You can either join a "collegiate challenge" or volunteer on your own. Check their website or call your local chapter for more information.
i-to-i.com - i-to-i is a travel company that specializes in volunteering. They can organize every area of your trip, from setting up volunteer opportunities to airfare and lodging. These trips can be expensive but if you want to have fun, see the world, and not have to worry about anything, this is the way to go.
Projects Abroad - This is another private company specializing in connecting volunteers with short and long-term overseas opportunities. Check their website for different packages and specials.Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joost-ijmuiden/4191994421/
Of course, if you don't want to go with a package deal or don't have the cash to travel, take a look at one of the many volunteer opportunities available in your community. Not only will you have fun but you could be helping to improve your neighborhood! Take a look at websites like HandsOn Network and Volunteer Match to see what is available.
Whatever you decide to do for your Spring Break (sit on the beach, drink the night away, work, or volunteer), make sure that you stay safe, drink responsibly, and, most importantly, have fun!