UA Alternative Spring Break

By Samantha Hickey, Assistant Editor

A group of University of Akron students ditched the beach and traded in their swimsuits for shovels and work gloves last week.

Over spring break, nearly 100 students spent a combined 3,056 hours volunteering in UA’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

The Florida team volunteered in Silver Springs at the Forest Animal Rescue by Peace River Refuge & Ranch, a lifetime care sanctuary for non-releasable wild animals. The students helped install a new gate fence, cleared brush from the sanctuary, and even got a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility.

Meanwhile, members of the Georgia team found themselves in Winder, Georgia at Camp Twin Lakes, a camp dedicated to children with serious illnesses, disabilities and other life challenges.

Greek life members painted a cabin, assisted with Wi-Fi installation, created library shelves, built mobile chicken coops, fenced in an equestrian pasture and painted vegetable beds during their time in Georgia.

“My favorite part of ASB was the experience of getting to know so many people and create an authentic bond between ourselves,” said senior Todd Simmons. “We were able to be vulnerable among each other and let our barriers down.”

Volunteers at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island in Manteo, North Carolina cleared space for an outdoor play area for the Aquarium’s visitors. Students cleared brush, assembled play area parts, expanded the Aquarium’s gardens, and cleaned up debris along the island. In their downtime, they could hike, paddle board, kayak, and even tour the Wright Brothers Museum.

“One of the best parts about volunteering at a children’s camp is that everything that needed painted could be done in fun, bright colors and allowed us to be creative,” said junior Megan Brophy. “I not only enjoyed the painting and creative projects that were given to us, but the more labor intensive tasks of digging holes definitely made you feel like you were working hard and making a difference. My muscles felt it the next day, too.”

“If you’re thinking about going on ASB, don’t hesitate —just do it,” said junior Bethany Fisher. “You will make friends and do great things for organizations who deserve all you do and so much more. Nothing feels better than hearing about all of the money you saved the organization you’re working with, and you’ll feel so good inside too.”