Monday, March 22, 2010

UIS students return home from Alternative Spring Break



A record number of University of Illinois Springfield students, who participated in Alternative Spring Break returned home on Saturday, March 20 knowing they made a difference.

The 45 students and 3 advisers spent a week in Galveston, Texas helping to clean up damage from Hurricane Ike, which struck in 2008.

“Just having the opportunity to be down there was amazing,” said Jaleesa Earthely, president of the UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization. “I just know we gave the community back hope and that’s what I was looking to go down there to do.”

The group stayed at a local elementary school in Galveston with other students from across the country, volunteering for 8 1/2 hours a day. The UIS students took on the project as part of the One Mission Initiative, a faith-based organization.

“Some of these houses that we went into hadn’t been touched for like a year or more. No one had been in there to redo siding or drywall and that’s basically what we were doing,” said senior volunteer Zach Berillo.

The UIS crew was split into three groups on the trip and worked on a total of three homes, along with other property. While working on land owned by the City of Galveston they got an unexpected visitor.

“The mayor pulled up and thanked us for our efforts and said the things that we were doing are long overdue,” said Kelly Thompson, director of the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center.

The UIS Alternative Spring Break student organization was formed last year, when students took their first trip to Mandeville, Louisiana to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity following Hurricane Katrina.

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