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Spring break is for doing good and working hard

Apr 3, 2019

When other students may be soaking up the sun’s rays and winding down from a busy semester, a group of 10 students instead sacrificed their spring break to give back in hurricane-ravaged Bay County, Fla.

Two students carrying debris walking away from camera with it.

“Some students don’t get to go home or travel during spring break, but with this program we make it affordable to travel and give students the opportunity to volunteer and engage in service-based learning,” said Lindsay Giliam, president of Flagler College Volunteers and a student leader on the recent trip to the Florida panhandle.

They are called alternative break trips, granted the moniker because of the alternate option it affords students who want to do something they deem more meaningful than lounging on the beach for a week.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And Giliam recognized some students simply can’t join a service trip like this for practical reasons, even if they want to. Work commitments or long-term projects can get in the way.

This trip hit close to home for some Flagler students, many of whom are from the impacted area or had experienced recent hurricanes here on campus – Matthew and Irma.

“Some students thought it was really bad here just because we were sent home for a week or so, but in the Panama City area you could see total destruction and there’s some things that are still not open,” she said.

The trip came together organically, as a core group of students rallied together to ensure FCV could fund and support the trip in order to use this otherwise bleak situation as a springboard for doing good.

“It’s a really good investment of your time and you have the opportunity to learn and grow as a person. When we come to Flagler and have the opportunities we have here, we come from a place of privilege. But by going on these trips and educating ourselves whether it’s an academic setting or service space setting, in a local or national setting, we’re able to have an impact in communities.”

The typical service day started with breakfast at 6:15 a.m. Mostly, the students worked at people’s homes, getting to know them and figuring out their specific situation and needs. They were assigned particular work through the nonprofit they teamed up with called Samaritan’s Purse, which has been onsite since the area started the recovery process. In addition to working at people’s homes, the students also cleaned up nature trails at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, which will be hosting summer camps soon. In turn, that helps the local students have a safe and clean place to go for a sense of normalcy in an area still trying to pick up the pieces.

Although having a group for a whole week focus on nothing but recovery efforts, Giliam emphasized that there is still so much left to be done: “I wish we didn’t have to leave.”

Students sitting at a long dining table all looking at the camera and smiling with food in front of them on trays.

To view the entire photo slideshow, please visit here.


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