From: Public Affairs
During Thanksgiving, most James Madison University students travel home to partake in the traditions of feasting on turkey and pumpkin pie and giving thanks. For the 34 people participating in JMU's Alternative Thanksgiving Break program this year, the holiday week will come with a helping of service across America in Georgia, Louisiana and California during JMU's Nov. 20-28 break.
"The Alternative Break trips provide a learning opportunity for students outside of the classroom and enable them to become enlightened, well-educated citizens," said Misty Newman, assistant director of Community Service-Learning at JMU. "The students interact with a different population, engage in a social issue and experience life at the poverty level. Not only do they gain a new perspective, but they also learn important leadership and team-building skills."
Samaritan House of Atlanta Inc. and Cafe 458
An 11-member team works at the agency that helps homeless men and women gain self-sufficiency. At Cafe 458, a restaurant that serves free meals to homeless people, the JMU team pitches in to help. The team also works with the Earning Dignity…Gaining Employment program by helping with employment workshops, resume writing and computer lessons. Each team member is paying $200 to participate.
The Phoenix of New Orleans
An 11-member team focuses on hunger, homelessness and hurricane relief. The team helps to rebuild the damage that is still left from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by rebuilding quality, affordable housing and strengthening the community in the lower Mid-City neighborhood in Orleans Parish. Each team member is paying $200 to participate.
Joshua Tree National Park - Twentynine Palms, Calif.
A 12-member team, co-sponsored with University Recreation, travels to California to explore Joshua Tree National Park while camping and cooking outdoors. The group participates in tree productivity, planting restoration and biodiversity inventory collection. Team members are each paying $450 plus the cost of airfare to participate in the trip that also includes substantial hiking.
From the first Alternative Spring Break in 1992, the JMU program has grown to encompass alternative break trips at Thanksgiving, Spring Break and May Break. The JMU program is the Break Away National Program of the Year for 2010 in recognition of the university's commitment to active citizenship. The program earned the same award in 1999 from Break Away, a national nonprofit organization that supports the development of quality alternative break programs at colleges and other nonprofit organizations.
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/.