Alternative Spring Break accepting applications

The sixth annual Alternative Spring Break is in the works and looking for students who want to travel and volunteer.

Students will be going to Pensacola, Fla., and partnering with Community Collaborations International, a Gulf Coast relief program, on an ecological restoration project, according to ASB President Ashley Drees.

ASB was founded at Butler University in 2005. The program encourages students to spend their break doing community service, rather than taking a leisurely trip or going home.

The spring 2011 program will take a total of 33 people, including advisers and the executive board to help communities recover from natural and man-made disasters.

Students will also be working on the shoreline and restoring the environment.

In 2009, ASB went to the Cumberland Trail in Soddy Daisy, Tenn., and spent their time working on a sustainability program for the environment by moving large rocks and creating cribbage walls.

All of this work helped to conserve natural resources in the area, said senior Matt VandenElst, ASB vice president.

In 2010, ASB went to New York City with the Youth Service and Opportunities Project and worked with various soup kitchens, schools, food and clothing banks and homeless shelters to help the hungry and homeless, said VandenElst.

“It’s a way to travel and also do something good at the same time,” senior J.J. Kells, ASB fundraising cochair, said.

From the time applicants are selected to well after the trip is over, they become much closer than they were before, VandenElst said.

“Working on a project like this with people is a good way to get to know each other,” VandenElst said.

The ASB program serves to also give students a chance to participate in a service project that is more than a one-time project. It is a program that offers students an opportunity to interact with those in need and really understand what it means to serve others.

“It’s a chance for students just to go to a different place and experience a social issue that they might not be familiar with and then kind of try to utilize it later on in coming back to the Indianapolis community,” Drees said.

The program encourages and teaches students how to use volunteer work in everyday life.

It also shows students how volunteer work on a personal level is important, as opposed to simply doing a one-time mandatory project.

“To come back and know that you made an impact and a difference somewhere kind of leaves you feeling like you did something worthwhile with your time,” Kells said.

The program generally changes each year in order to incorporate different social interests so that students step outside of their comfort zone, and also learn how to use the passions to help their community through those passions and volunteer work.

ASB will be accepting applications until Nov. 19. Applications will be reviewed and then applicants will be called for interviews before finally being notified about participation in the program Dec. 5.