Wednesday, March 18, 2015

UIS students volunteer in Mississippi as part of Alternative Spring Break

A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break working with children in Biloxi, Mississippi and helping with a coastal erosion prevention project.

A total of 20 UIS students and 2 staff members left Springfield on Sunday, March 15 at 5 a.m. and will return to campus on Saturday, March 21 at approximately 8 p.m.

“Each year, Alternative Spring Break seeks out to create a trip that provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for UIS students,” said Brittani Provost, student president of UIS Alternative Spring Break. “We are really excited to be engaging in youth and education work, especially in Mississippi.”

The student volunteers are spending three days with preschoolers from Early Head Start reading and helping with art projects. The group is also volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club’s after school program helping elementary and middle school students with homework. As part of a separate project, students are working on a costal erosion prevention project with Land Trust of the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

“UIS students have a chance to make a real impact working with students and understanding the complex issues that these students face as well as why programs like Early Head Start and Boys & Girls Club are important,” said Provost.

During their stay, students are living in a Community Collaborations International volunteer hostel and spending the majority of their day volunteering.

“This is an amazing opportunity for students to go beyond talking about these issues and personally engage in volunteer work,” said Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed in 2009 when students took their first trip to Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina. In following years, students have helped clean up damage from Hurricane Ike in Texas, cleaned up portions of the Mississippi river in Tennessee, and helped rebuild homes damaged by hurricanes in New Orleans. In 2013, students helped with revitalization efforts in the Florida Everglades. Last year, students worked with the homeless at various soup kitchens in Washington, D.C.

For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact Mark Dochterman, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at mdoch2@uis.edu.

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