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Take your pick: NIU students enjoy four choices for Alternative Spring Break 2012 volunteerism

February 2, 2012

Alternative Spring BreakNIU students who hunger for adventure and accomplishment on an Alternative Spring Break next month have four choices to satisfy their appetites.

They can travel to Washington, D.C., and help the hungry or homeless or trek to Newark, N.J., and work with youths in the local Boys and Girls Club.

For those service-minded students who are looking for warmer climes, they can commute to Niceville, Fla., and fortify the shoreline after spilled oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig eroded it.

Or if they enjoy amusement parks and children, they can wander to Kissimmee, Fla., and show terminally ill children a good time at a local theme park.

“This year, students have good selections on how to have a rewarding Alternative Spring Break,” says Becky Harlow, assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development at NIU. “All of the issues that the students will be working with and the destinations have been chosen by student site leaders who actually coordinate much of the trips themselves.”

Spring Break at NIU comes the week of March 12.

While many students choose to relax at home or on warm sunny beaches, a growing number of Huskies are opting get their hands dirty and work up a sweat while donating time and talents to communities where they have no ties.

The proof is in the numbers of students who already have registered, Harlow says.

Photo of the Washington Monument“Registration for our Kissimmee trip is already closed. We do have a few openings left for Newark, Washington, D.C., and Niceville,” she says. “Because the popularity of Alternative Spring Break is growing, registration fills up quickly.”

Before the students even leave Illinois, their journeys begin. Research for their projects starts months in advance. They learn about the agencies they will volunteer for and the clients or environments they will encounter.

Upon arriving, they hit the ground running. They work long days, dirty their hands and clothes and labor side-by-side, often forging bonds with students from other universities who are just as benevolent with their time.

“And when they return to Illinois, they bring back with them ideas on how to implement similar projects closer to home,” Harlow says. “They also keep in touch with the students and agencies they worked with during the week.”

Students must register by Monday, Feb. 6. The application is available online.

The $550 cost for Alternative Spring Break is all-inclusive, paying for transportation, lodging and meals. Half of the fees ($275) must be received when applications are submitted. The remainder is due Friday, Feb. 24.

For more information, call (815) 753-1421 or email [email protected].

by Gerard Dziuba