Students volunteering throughout the country with Alternative Breaks

University of Maine students with Alternative Breaks, a student-led organization that promotes community involvement, are spending the upcoming winter and spring breaks volunteering throughout the United States.

Since 1998, UMaine’s Black Bear Chapter of Alternative Breaks has organized trips for students to provide volunteer service to others.

This year, the nonprofit is deploying five groups of 12 students. The students, along with faculty and graduate student advisers, will spend their winter and spring break vacations on volunteer service trips that focus on various social issues, such as affordable housing, disaster relief and food security.

Throughout the academic year, students participate in service learning, fundraising and team-building activities and are engaged with the planning of their upcoming service trips.

Each of the volunteer service trips is led by a team of undergraduate site co-leaders, many of whom have prior experience participating in Alternative Breaks trips.

The groups will leave Jan. 12 and March 16 to travel to their respective project locations.

Volunteer locations and service projects include:

  • Lynchburg Grows in Lynchburg, Virginia, to help with nutrition and food systems programming that offers disadvantaged persons access to garden spaces and helps them enjoy the healthy benefits of gardening;
  • REACH in Roanoke, Virginia, to help restore abandoned homes and serve meals to the local homeless population;
  • Renovation Alliance in Roanoke, Virginia, to provide free home repairs, upgrades and maintenance to the residents of a low-income community;
  • Seeds of Service in Brick, New Jersey, to work toward improving the town of Brick and its surrounding areas through rebuilding homes, farming, cleaning up the streets or coordinating community activities; and
  • Thrive DC and DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C., to combat homelessness by providing people with services to help stabilize their lives, and to prepare and serve meals as part of the goal to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities.

This year, Alternative Breaks has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help support their work. More information about Alternative Breaks, the 2019 service trips and their crowdfunding campaign is online.