A group of students from the University of Illinois Springfield are spending their spring break helping to rebuild Texas following Hurricane Harvey.
A total of 21 students left Springfield on Sunday, March 11, at 3 a.m. and will return to campus on Saturday, March 17, at approximately 11 p.m. as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip.
The group is in Beaumont, Texas where they are partnering with Community Collaborations International (CCI). The students are gutting/mucking homes, clearing debris and helping with reconstruction projects. The students are staying at a church in Beaumont while they volunteer.
“ASB decided to go to Texas because at the time we started planning this year’s trip Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters were happening in the United States,” said Hailey Hawkins, a UIS senior and president of Alternative Spring Break. “We knew ASB would be a great opportunity for students at UIS to help with the emergency relief projects and serve those affected by the natural disaster."
This trip marks the 10th anniversary of Alternative Spring Break at UIS. Students first traveled to South Dakota in 2008 to help Habitat for Humanity with a building project. Since then, they’ve traveled to the Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas helping with disaster relief, eco-restoration efforts and early childhood education programs. Students have also helped to feed the homeless at soup kitchens in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
"I love to spend my spring break with ASB not only because it is a great chance to travel to new places and connect with other students, but also because you get a different sense of purpose and meaning when you give your spring break to help those in need in a place you have never been before,” said Hawkins, who has been on four ASB trips. “I love helping other students have that experience as well.”
For more information on Alternative Spring Break, contact RJ Swartz, AmeriCorps VISTA for the UIS Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center, at 217/206-6586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.