COLUMBIA, Mo. – Spring break signals a time for vacation and a break from the rigor of college academics. Yet, for more than 600 University of Missouri students, the week away from school will be spent doing volunteer service. A total of 592 students will be partnering with organizations in 45 communities across the United States, from Tuba City, Arizona, to New York City. An additional 21 students will participate in international service projects.
“Mizzou Alternative Breaks is the epitome of Mizzou students’ commitment to service,” said Jeff Zeilenga, dean of students at MU. “While no one would blame students for wanting to take it easy during their spring break, hundreds of Mizzou students use their entire week serving others.”
Mizzou Alternative Breaks participants learn about important community issues including education, health, homelessness and more. Volunteer locations include:
- Children’s Hospital of Colorado in Aurora
- Hope House in Detroit
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key West
- The Food Bank in Houston
- National Down Syndrome Society in New York City
- Habitat for Humanity in Savannah, Georgia
“Mizzou Alternative Breaks is led completely by students. Student leaders decide where the groups will go and what organizations they will serve,” said Bizzy Emerson, MU senior and director of spring season for Mizzou Alternative Breaks. “Students are excited to participate and spend their spring break serving other communities. Every year we hear from fellow participants that Mizzou Alternative Breaks was their favorite college experience.”
Founded in 1991, Mizzou Alternative Breaks sends groups of students on service trips during weekend, Thanksgiving, spring, summer and winter breaks. Participants enter communities with the mindset of “Serve, don’t help”— one of the program’s guiding principles.
In 2014, Mizzou Alternative Breaks announced a partnership with MU Extension and pledged to bring service trips to all of Missouri’s 114 counties by 2020. To date, Mizzou Alternative Breaks has served 97 counties in the state and the city of St. Louis.