As a generation that is used to seeing war and natural disasters hit the TV screen every day, it is no wonder that the idea of going on more socially responsible spring breaks is a growing trend among college students.
Called the alternative spring break, it's when students decide to volunteer to give back to needy communities during their time off from school, instead of hitting the beaches of Cancun. Students can not only help others but also gain the experience of a lifetime.
Here are five alternative spring break opportunities that are hard to pass up:
The nonprofit, Christian housing ministry is able to build houses by relying heavily on volunteer labor for both national and global projects. The Global Village program offers week-long spring break trips that place volunteers in the middle of projects that focus on house construction, renovations or disaster relief. Students can get a chance to see villages in culture-rich countries like the Philippines while getting knee-deep in construction projects that are organized for volunteers with no previous experience.
2. United Way
If you're looking to stay within the U.S. borders for your volunteer experience, the United Way has developed an Alternative Spring Break program for students. United Way's mission is to lend a hand in communities that have been hit by natural disasters or are struggling to get back on their feet. Besides offering your time and energy, volunteers are asked only to raise at least $150 in donations for program costs.
3. i to i
This volunteer travel company's spring break volunteer programs help put students in the countries they're eager to explore but with a twist. The travel company has been sending volunteers to countries like Costa Rica since 1996, but the dream trips also hold the students responsible for nearly all travel costs since they include activities like surfing alongside any volunteer work.
4. Break Away
Known as the Alternative Spring Break Connection, this nonprofit organization works with colleges and universities to encourage students to partake in a spring break volunteer program. Break Away school chapters give students a chance to volunteer in needy communities; they also coordinate events such as leadership retreats to turn a student's interest in volunteering into a lifelong commitment to their community.
5. Your Own Backyard
Students who don't want to commit to an established spring break volunteer program can keep it local by helping out in their own backyard. From painting an elderly neighbor's fence to babysitting for free, there are plenty of ways a student can find volunteer opportunities close to home.