Mizzou Alternative Spring Break sent more than 190 students to 17 different locations around the country this spring break to work on service projects, ASB Treasurer Cole Donelson said.
ASB traveled to North Carolina, Florida, South Dakota and Texas, among other locations, and volunteered for multiple projects, including building houses, invasive plant removal, AIDS awareness promotion and working at soup kitchens.
Students who participate in ASB are required to go through an application process.
“We look for students who are really enthusiastic about doing service and willing to fully commit to a trip,” Donelson said.
ASB's scope has increased this year, expanding from about 90 students in eight locations in 2010, Donelson said.
ASB President Raha Obaei said a record-breaking 400 students applied.
Zach Beattie spent his spring break in Charleston, S.C. His trip focused on helping kids with intellectual disabilities and included spending the day with children who have autism and helping at a therapeutic riding center.
“Many students travel during spring break in an attempt to have as much fun as possible and they assume volunteering would impede on their ‘fun time,' but Alternative Spring Break was just as much fun as it was rewarding,” Beattie said. “You meet new people, see new sights and experience new activities, all while assisting people who greatly appreciate your time.”
Chelsea Tossing was a site leader in Niceville, Fla., on an environmentally-oriented trip. The group focused on the environment and community that had been directly and indirectly affected by the oil spill. They cleared invasive trees and planted sea grass to help prevent coastal erosion.
A site leader not only participates in the volunteer projects, but is also responsible for planning the trip. The leader then takes eight to 10 students on their planned trip.
“To take ten participants that were equally as dedicated and to facilitate and watch them grow in their leadership and love for service was an absolutely amazing experience,” Tossing said. "The work we were doing was hard, but the people I was with made the load so much lighter with their great attitudes and outstanding ethic; every person brought something unique to the trip that I couldn't imagine the experience without.”
Obaei said she has never heard of a student having a bad experience while participating in ASB and encourages all students to apply.
“I really think that ASB is a life-changing experience,” Obaei said. “Once you are out of college, you won’t have the chance to take a week off and do service work for an issue you are really passionate about.”
Obaei said her closest friends are people she volunteered with at ASB.
“The best part about ASB was becoming closer to the other members of your group,” Beattie said. “Everyone has unique talents that they bring to the table and it's amazing to see how everyone works together to accomplish something worthwhile.”