LAWRENCE — Eager to lend a helping hand, 34 students from the University of Kansas spent part of their summer volunteering in five states.
KU’s student-run Alternative Breaks program centers on service-learning trips that provide opportunities for students to include volunteer efforts in their educational experiences.
This summer, students worked with five different agencies in California, Florida, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas that focus on helping others in need. Students aided the agencies’ efforts to help people with disabilities, disaster victims and preserve natural habitat. All groups began their volunteer work May 23. Some groups volunteered for one week and others for 11 days.
Whitney Bloom, a senior from Hutchinson, and Aleese Kopf, a senior from Lawrence, were the Alternative Summer Breaks co-directors. Administrative advisers were Linda Luckey, assistant to the vice provost for academic affairs, and Reuben Perez, director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Center.
Following their admittance to the program, students attended six weekly classes to prepare for their Alternative Summer Break sites. The classes provided more information about the communities where the students volunteered and the issues these communities face.
The program was established at KU in 1995 with a spring break trip to El Paso, Texas. After 1995, it expanded further to fall or holiday breaks. Now the program offers summer and even weekend volunteer opportunities.
Alternative Breaks works in partnership with KU’s Center for Community Outreach, a student-run and student-funded organization that manages 16 core volunteer programs plus additional local programs and serves as a coordinating group for KU students interested in volunteer projects.
An Alternative Spring Break counts as one honors unit for the University Honors Program, which now requires students who want to graduate with honors to complete one or two honors units outside the classroom. The program costs participants $275 ($225 for site leaders) and covers their transportation, housing and meals.
KU participants in this summer’s Alternative Break are listed below:
Catalina Environmental Leadership Program, Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
Site leaders: Emma Hoyle, Lawrence senior, and Bailey Reimer, Shawnee, senior.
A residential environmental and outdoor education program that provides unique learning experiences for students in grades 4-12.
Cheyenne River Youth Project, Eagle Butte, S.D.
Site leaders: Joe Stuever, Wichita junior, and Lindsey Bloom, Olathe sophomore.
An organization in one of the nation’s five poorest counties providing aid to the youth of Cheyenne River Reservation.
Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, Cincinatti, Ohio
Site leaders: Sam Long, Topeka junior, and Ashley Arenholz, Olathe junior.
A non-profit organization established in 1981 that responds to the needs of individuals with Down syndrome.
Everglades National Park, Flamingo, Fla.
Site leaders: Dani McClain, Maryland Heights junior, and Sarah Plake, Overland Park senior.
The organization works to conserve the natural landscape and protect the land, plants and animals inhabiting it.
One Mission: Galveston, Galveston, Texas
Site leaders: Chris Wichman, Silver lake graduate, and Tucker Alfred, Salina senior.
A faith-based organization that provides a venue for people to help communities affected by poverty, disaster and other devastating circumstances.