Service, Not Stuffing, Fills Thanksgiving for Alternative Break Teams

From: Public Affairs

Fifty-two James Madison University students, faculty and staff are foregoing traditional family Thanksgiving gatherings for volunteer service in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia to assist people in need and to clean up the environment.

All the service trips are part of the Alternative Break Program offered through Community Service-Learning at JMU. Teams are composed of JMU students, student trip leaders and faculty or staff, who serve as "learning partners" to work alongside the students.

Four teams are embarking on out-of-state adventures while one team remains in the Harrisonburg area to work with United Way agencies on community development. The trips occur during JMU's Thanksgiving break, Nov. 21-29, when classes do not meet.

Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim, Grand Canyon, Ariz.
A 13-member team, cosponsored with University Recreation, works with the National Park Service on trail and site maintenance projects. Team members are each paying $360 plus the cost of airfare to participate in the trip that includes backpacking, camping and cooking outdoors.

Community Service Center, Winter Park, Fla.
A nine-member team works with at-risk youth to promote academics, art and sports activities. Each member is paying $250 to participate.

Cafe 458, Atlanta
A 10-member team works at the restaurant that supplies free meals to homeless people. Each team member is paying $250 to participate.

Student Advocacy For Equitable Recovery, New Orleans
A 10-member team works to help rebuild the homes of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Each member is paying $250 to participate.

United Way agencies, Harrisonburg (Nov. 20-25)
A 10-member team works with Meals on Wheels, Reading Roadshow, Our Community Place, Camp Still Meadows and Grand Caverns to meet needs of people facing hunger, homelessness and disabilities and to learn more about youth and education, the environment and immigration. Each member is paying $80 to participate.

For information about JMU's Alternative Break Program, including an interactive map showcasing past service trips, and Community Service-Learning, check http://www.jmu.edu/service/.

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Nov. 24, 2009