For many college students, spring break is a time to kick back and relax on a beach somewhere warm. But for 34 University of Hartford students, spring break will be a little different.
Although it might be warm where they are heading, these students won’t be relaxing, rather, they will be giving back.
The group of UHart students will leave on Friday, March 16, for Tuscaloosa Alabama, where they will help to rebuild a community after a tornado killed dozens and caused widespread disparity in April 2011.
Matthew Blocker-Glynn, director for the Center for Community Service at University of Hartford, said trips like these are important for students and staff.
“It shows how each individual can connect to the larger community and how we are a part of something bigger,” he said. “Every helping hand leads to something better.”
During the six days in Alabama, students and tree advisers will receive Red Cross disaster training. The trip is referred to as “Alternative Spring Break” because students volunteer to do community service rather than spend their break on vacation.
“We have embedded in our culture at UHart that one of our values is committing to community service,” Blocker-Glynn said. “It’s a way for students to see different parts of our country while giving back.”
Center for Community Service UHart decides on trip destinations, but daily projects are determined based on the suggestions of a community service center in Alabama.
“There is so much need in the community,” Blocker-Glynn said about Tuscaloosa.
Students will work on projects such as reconstruction, home improvement, debris removal and tree planting. Volunteering at food banks, free clothing outlets, Head Start programs, Boys and Girls Clubs and soup kitchens will also be on the list of things to do while in Alabama.
Besides helping others, students will spend time at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute learning about the nation’s civil rights era along with taking a Civil Rights walking tour in the city.
“We hope that students will come back with some memories that will last a life time,” Blocker-Glynn said.
The group will leave on Friday, March 16 and is expected to return to campus on Saturday, March 25.