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Altruism: Juniata Students Spend Spring Break on Service Projects

(Posted March 4, 2013)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Foregoing the "fun in the sun" lure of beaches and karaoke contests, several groups of Juniata students will still be heading south for spring break, but they will be taking on such service projects as working with migrant worker families and building new homes.

"I think that Juniata's service trips are appealing because transportation, lodging, meals and service activities are planned for participants, so everyone is able to focus on enjoying the experience," says Erin Kreischer, a senior from Harrisburg, Pa. who is heading to Albany, Ga. with Juniata's Habitat for Humanity chapter. "Students on the trips are able to meet new people that share a common interest and together we are able to learn about and serve a new community."

"As a student, it is possible between exams, jobs and campus activities to feel disconnected from the Huntingdon community. Being involved in community service is a great way to bridge this divide. Having a connection with the surrounding community makes Juniata feel more like a family."
Erin Kreischer, senior, Habitat for Humanity

Kreischer and 20 other students in the Habitat for Humanity club are not the only collegians intent on taking part in service projects. The college's Hillel chapter is traveling to the Dominican Republic to build shelters. Juniata's Christian Ministry Board is traveling to North Fort Myers, Fla. to volunteer on a farm and the college's Community Service Board is going to Apopka, Fla. to work with immigrant families.

The Habitat for Humanity trip will take on the construction of an entire house in Albany, Ga. In addition, Juniata students also will organize the affiliate's ReStore location. A Habitat ReStore sells used or surplus building materials at a fraction of retail prices.

The Apopka, Fla. trip, which includes 10 Juniata students, focuses on a collaboration with a local organization called Hope CommUnity Center, which works extensively with the area's farm worker families and immigrant population. "The participants all will live with host families and the students will get the chance to learn about the many struggles Apopka has endured, including poverty, unemployment, racial tensions and gang violence," says Abbey Baird, director of community service and service learning at Juniata.

The trip to Florida also features four international students, two from Japan and two from Ecuador and China, respectively.

The Christian Ministry Board, led by staff advisers Lindsey Monihen and Lisa Hershey, both campus ministry affiliates, will take eight students to North Fort Myers, Fla., to volunteer on a demonstration farm. The students will spend time doing typical farm chores such as weeding, planting and mulching as well as some construction, painting and office work.

The student crew is working with Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, a nondenominational Christian organization that teaches volunteers working with the underprivileged internationally to be more effective with agricultural tasks.

Hillel, the Juniata student chapter of the college club for Jewish students, will travel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to work on the "My Roof" project, which focuses on building shelters for people who don't have adequate, safe housing. In addition, some of the 15 students on the trip will also volunteer to work at a health clinic and a local school.

The students will work for the Guanin Student Services Agency.
"As a student, it is possible between exams, jobs and campus activities to feel disconnected from the Huntingdon community," Kreisher explains. "Being involved in community service is a great way to bridge this divide. Having a connection with the surrounding community makes Juniata feel more like a family."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.