Bloomberg reports on students using Spring Break to do community service:

Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, has seven public service field trips this year, involving about 65 students, said Rick Spalding, the college’s chaplain and community service coordinator. The ranks of student volunteers swelled after Katrina, and the numbers have remained high because of students’ awareness of their own impact on issues such as climate change, he said.

“This is not a selfish generation,” Spalding said. “If their parents — people in my generation — had been as conscious, we might not be in the mess we’re in.”

I was drawn into my first such trip during freshman year because I was told that dorms would be closed over spring break, and I needed an inexpensive way to spend two weeks 8000 miles from home. Cabo was not an option, but going on a service trip was free. It turned out to be one of the most worthwhile things I did during my time at Williams.

I would be extremely wary of for-profit companies such as STA Travel who “market community-service themed trips”. Given the generosity of existing institutions at Williams, you really shouldn’t have to pay much out of pocket in order to do community service; our trip was funded entirely by a combination of an alumni gift and the Chaplain’s Office.

I also found a tremendous amount of help from Rick Spalding in getting funding to spend a summer working for SOME in Washington, DC. As this was a mostly-unpaid position with a small charity, I remain grateful to Rev. Spalding for his support. Students interested in doing similar projects, whether over spring break or summer or during the academic year, need only approach the Chaplain’s Office with their idea.

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