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Students make a difference over spring break

"Spring SERVE is a wonderful opportunity for students to get away for a week and help make a difference in the lives of others," says Tammy Bean, community service coordinator. "Being a part of this program also enhances the students' educational experience by learning about the value of diversity and teamwork."

All Spring SERVE trips were organized and run by students and were paid for by fundraising and donations.

Making kids happy

In Orlando, nine students worked with terminally ill children and their families through the non-profit group Give Kids the World, which fulfills the wishes of terminally ill children to visit area attractions. For six days, the Lehigh students worked with the families in activities ranging from pool parties, one-on-one activities with the kids and their siblings, parent’s night out, and various other volunteer activities.

"I work with the volunteers, who are the heartbeat of the village," says Caroline Schumacher, volunteer coordinator for Give Kids the World. "The Lehigh students did everything from babysitting the kids so that their parents could go out on a date to scooping endless ice cream. Without volunteers like the Lehigh students, we would not experience the success that we do. Each family was given undivided attention from our loving and caring volunteers. We shared many laughs and smiles."

When asked what he got out of the Orlando Spring SERVE trip, Brian Lime ’04 says, "I got a rare seven-day period of time, most of which I will never forget until old age besieges my mind. I felt like I did something worthwhile for someone else. We made kids happy, and in my book, that’s time well spent."

`An extraordinary experience’

Seven other students spent their spring break helping the Virginia state park system through various projects. "Virginia State Parks have been fortunate to have groups from all over the country participate in the Alternative Spring Break program," says Joe Elton, state parks director for Virginia State Parks. "Past alternative spring break groups have made significant contributions to improve recreational facilities and preserve the natural resources of the park. Some accomplishments in the past include trail construction, planting trees, and construction of a handicap ramp, which provides beach access to those individuals with special needs. We were excited to have the high caliber of student that Lehigh has to offer."

Twenty-one other students spent a week working on Habitat for Humanity houses in Morehead City, S.C. and Marion, N.C. Students spent the week helping to build homes for two families who otherwise would not have been able to afford a home.

"I definitely got some perspective from the trip," says Marie Campbell ’06, who took part in the North Carolina Spring SERVE project. "Seeing how good I have it is something that every Lehigh student should see in some way or another."

"I decided to go on the North Carolina Spring SERVE trip because I wanted to obtain an extraordinary experience that not only impacted my life, but others’ lives as well," says Jill Harrison ’05. "Over one week I enhanced my people and group skills, my domestic and construction abilities, my understanding of other people and backgrounds, and my faith in the beauty and compassion of service."

Lehigh’s Community Service Office provides students, faculty and staff the opportunity to explore the rewards and benefits of providing service to the community. It does this through group service projects, on-going service opportunities such as tutoring, environmental projects, working with senior citizens, student service organizations, service agency work opportunities, and speakers.

--Y. Sarah Suh
yss2@lehigh.edu

Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2003

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