Students plan service for Spring Break

By Wesley Robinson

Students not interested in hitting the beaches for Spring Break this year can find alternative ideas at the Center for Community Outreach.

The Alternative Spring Break student organization held a meeting last night to outline and describe two different trips they will offer, one in Tennessee and another in Georgia. Both will take place March 7 through 15, said program coordinator Karima Samadi.

“Once Upon a Time In Appalachia” will teach students about a different environment and culture, said Samadi, a dietetics senior. Students will work with senior citizen and child development centers in the Snowbird Cherokee community in Merryville, Tenn.

Students will work with the Cherokee population and will be assisting with habitat and bridge building, and homesteading activities such as gardening, harvesting crops and splitting firewood, Samadi said.

The other trip will be to Albany, Ga., through the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge. Students will be constructing and remodeling low-income and poorly developed housing areas, Samadi said.

“I cried the last year when I left,” said Beth Willett, a dietetics graduate student who participated in Alternative Spring Breaks from 1996 to 2001. “I wish every student would try it — I learned so much all those years fixing things that I didn’t know how to do, it helps build practical skills,” Willett said. “I can throw up dry wall, build porches and put up handrails.”

Erika Reitano, a dietetics senior and a member of the organization who will lead one of the trips, said she is looking forward to the journey because she feels it will be a “life-changing experience.”

Applications for both trips are due Jan. 16 and are available at the Volunteer Center’s Web site ( Students can turn in the applications at the center in room 106 of the Student Center. There is a $50 application fee.

There are 34 openings for an alternative spring break trip: 12 to Tennessee and 22 to Georgia. Non-UK and graduate students are allowed to attend. There will be an orientation for the selected members and fundraisers to help lower the cost of the trip.

In the future, the organization plans to expand the alternative spring break program including the possibility of an international trip.