116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As their peers head to Mexico or Florida for a week of sun and sand, many Iowa college students are choosing to spend their spring break serving at home instead. College and universities across Iowa have planned ”alternative” spring break trips for students to volunteer around the country and even internationally. However, Iowa Wesleyan College and Grinnell College are offering a unique experience for students to stay closer to home for their spring break service.
Iowa Wesleyan College students will be traveling to Des Moines March 6 to 8 to volunteer at two non-profits: Freedom for Youth Ministries, a center for impoverished youth, and Hope Ministries, a non-denominational organization which runs one of the largest homeless shelters in the state. During their time in Des Moines, they will work on various campus restoration and maintenance projects and prepare meals and lead games for youth at the shelter.
“I chose a trip in state because it would be more affordable for students,” said Colin Studer, AmeriCorps VISTA member at Iowa Wesleyan College, who is leading the group of students on the service trip. “Offering a short, three-day trip allows students the opportunity to go home for a few days and then come back to volunteer.”
Students from Grinnell College will be traveling to Cedar Rapids starting March 17 to assist with continued flood relief efforts. During the week they will be working construction and painting in flood recovery areas. Grinnell students staying even closer to home will be serving with local Grinnell farmer Barney Bahrenfuse, who practices sustainable agriculture. They will build fences, clean out a hog house, and garden. Students will also work with the Grinnell Sustainable Agriculture Project (GSAP) farm where they will be plowing land and planting potatoes that will eventually be served at Grinnell's dining hall.
“There are a large number of people in Iowa who need assistance,” said Grinnell student Joseph Abraham, who is co-leading the Cedar Rapids trip. “While there might be more ‘glamorous' places to volunteer, I do not volunteer to go somewhere I have not been. I volunteer because I want to help those around me, especially those close by.”
Several other Iowa colleges and universities are taking students out of the state to serve in places such as New York, Arkansas, and Louisiana and international destinations such as Mexico and Guatemala. Cornell College and Wartburg College have added trips due to record numbers of students interested and Buena Vista University has a “mystery” trip where students will not know their destination until they leave. If you would like to learn more about the wide variety of alternative spring break opportunities visit our web site at www.iacampuscompact.org/alternative-breaks.html.
Iowa Campus Compact (IACC) is a statewide association of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education by educating students for active citizenship and building strong communities.