Some students rode the surf during Spring Break, others hit the turf.
Dirty hands, sweaty brows and aching muscles are not usually the ideal way to spend a vacation, but for students participating in Alternative Spring Break, it couldn’t have been any better.
Forty Southern Oregon University students traded in their swimsuits and sunscreen for coveralls and gloves while working to alleviate the ailments within selected communities for a week during Spring Break.
“I enjoy volunteering and two weeks without anything to do,” SOU freshman Kendra Lawrence said. “I felt it could be put more positively towards volunteering.”
Alternative Spring Break is sponsored by SOU’s Civic Engagement Program and works to provide students with hands-on experience with social issues by living, working, and learning in cooperation with local agencies working to improve their communities.
This year’s group was the largest group in recent years, and students participated in the trips to Tacoma, Wash., Oakland, Calif. and the Dominican Republic.
Students in Tacoma tackled the problem of homelessness and hunger. The students followed the food from the farms to the homeless shelter. They volunteered at Little Eorthe Farms, the Emergency Food Network, Food Not Bombs and Guadalupe Land Trust where they spent time planting food, clearing fields, and preparing and serving food to connect the community to its neighbors in order to nourish and sustain diversity.
Other students traveled to Oakland to learn about environmental racism.
Students worked with City Slicker Farms, Green For All, People’s Grocery and other local activists to help provide fresh produce to neighborhoods where fresh and organic produce is usually too expensive or simply unavailable.
“A lot of people don’t understand that people can’t get fresh produce without paying a lot of money,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence enjoyed participating in the activities the community put on in an effort to combat the issue.
“Everything really does start with education,” she said. “It’s about educating the community and youth about ways to solve and stop these problems from occurring again.”
The week the students spent volunteering and learning was an eye-opening experience, Lawrence said, and when asked if she would consider signing up again …
She said, “Heck freakin’ yes I would do it again!”