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Serving Others Over Spring Break

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    A trip to Tucson, Ariz., that will focus on hunger outreach and immigration, is one of three week-long Destination: Service trips that Southwestern students will be doing this year. The trip will include volunteer work at a local food bank, feeding homeless persons at a local mission, and learning about immigration issues by taking a “Desert Walk” with the Tucson Samaritans (shown here), who provide humanitarian aid to people lost in the Sonoran Desert. (Photo by Anne Bannister)
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    For students who cannot devote a full week to a service trip over spring break, men’s soccer coach Don Gregory (shown here) has organized an alternative service project that involves working with children from the Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown.

Students will be helping others in Georgetown and across the country

More than 50 Southwestern University students will be spending their spring break helping others – both in Georgetown and around the country.

Students will be going to Arizona, New Mexico and Washington, D.C., the week of March 10-14 as part of the school’s annual Destination: Service program, which is now in its 19th year. Fourteen students will be going to Tucson, Ariz., for a program that will focus on hunger and immigration, 20 students will be going to New Mexico to help the U.S. Forest Service do trail maintenance in the Gila Wilderness, and 11 students will be going to Washington, D.C., for a program that will focus on poverty and homelessness.

For students who cannot devote a full week to a service trip, men’s soccer coach Don Gregory has organized an alternative service project closer to home. Gregory plans to bring children from the Boys & Girls Club of Georgetown to campus for three days to “just let them be kids − whether that’s playing softball for an hour, or throwing a Frisbee on the mall.”

In the two days that the children will not be brought to campus, Gregory and any interested Southwestern students plan to meet them at one of the two Boys & Girls Club locations in Georgetown to play soccer, kickball, football or other sports to provide a healthy, safe and low-stress environment for at-risk students.  

Gregory said he wanted to introduce a community service and outreach program to Georgetown after having previously led Destination: Service trips to Mississippi and New Orleans.

“Our students have no idea the kinds of conditions that children just down the road from them are living in,” Gregory said. “This gave me the impetus to bring these kids to Southwestern for a few hours just to play volleyball with someone and feel like they’re cared for.”  

Gregory has hosted students from the Boys & Girls Club on campus one afternoon a week for the past three summers.

Beyond creating an escape for children in the Georgetown community who are not in stable families, Gregory hopes that this type of experience on a college campus will show that higher education is indeed a viable option for all children despite their background, while educating Southwestern students about the greater community. 

“There are children in this town who have no place to sleep at night, but they are still trying to go to school and create some normalcy in their lives,” Gregory said. 

Gregory said about 20 students have volunteered to help at least one day during the week. He encourages any other students who will be on campus during spring break to contact him if they are interested in volunteering for this new program.

“Even if it’s only for an hour, the potential impact one can have during that time on another person is immeasurable,” he said.

−       Daniel Dumitru