With Spring Break just around the corner, more than one dozen University of Bridgeport students are packing their bags for sunny California where they will spend March 15 to 22 feeding the homeless, cleaning up around South Los Angeles, meeting with elected officials, and learning more about gang-prevention for high-risk youth.
The trip, known as Alternative Spring Break, is part of an annual outreach campaign held each March.
Students financed their trip by hosting numerous fundraisers. Taco Loco Restaurant and Fire Engine Pizza in Bridgeport, the UB Alumni Board, the Student Government Association, and Student Programming Board donated much of the funding, too, said Samantha Gerber, the UB student captain for Alternative Spring Break this year.
“We could not have done this without them,” Gerber added.
Gerber and 14 UB peers will do a different service project ever day, such as helping to beautify the South Los Angeles area, working with children, and pitch in at soup kitchens.
They will also meet with Los Angeles City Council Member Herb Wesson regarding issues facing South Los Angeles and tour Homeboy Industries, which is dedicated to preventing gang violence by working with and employing high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women through its restaurant, catering company, and job-training programs.
During previous Alternative Spring Breaks, UB students have helped to build a home for a man who lost his dwelling during Hurricane Sandy and have done similar construction projects with Habitat for Humanity.
Gerber, a veteran of two previous trips, said she’s learned that “giving is like a chain reaction. Maybe the woman we helped build a house for [via Habitat] will help someone when she’s on her feet. Maybe youth we work with in California will stay in school and help others. It only takes a group of students to come together and get it started.”
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