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Help Out Locally this Spring Break

Leah Westfall

February 18, 2011

Help Out Locally this Spring Break
How do you want to feel after spring break? Sun burnt, dehydrated and broke? Doesn’t sound like the best way to start off a new semester. How about fulfilled, thankful and rewarded? With an alternative spring break you’ll feel this and more. An alternative spring break is about dedicating a few days out of your busy school year to an organization that means something to you. Dubbed “alternative” these types of experiences and week-long excursions focus on donating your time-off to those who need it most. Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable work experience and find out what you like doing and rule out the things you don’t. Think of it as trying out a job before you choose a career. Plus, listing volunteer time on a resume can help impress potential employers.

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If you’re not the type to follow the pack, start thinking about which cause means something to you. You don’t have to go to a third world country to help those in need, here’s a few tips to help get you started volunteering locally. *Find a cause you care about.* Have a passion but not sure which organization backs it? Check out a site like where you can search volunteer groups by key words. Or think of establishments that could always use a helping hand such as schools, animal shelters, libraries, churches, soup kitchens and women’s shelters *Compile a list of reliable contacts.* Organizations like to know they have reliable and responsible individuals to work with. Put together a list of three to five people in your life who know you well and can vouch for your big heart and strong work ethic. Contacts should come from a variety of aspects in your life. Think about asking friends, family, teachers/professors, employers and other organizations you’re involved with.

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*Contact the organization.* Often organizations have a training session or new volunteer orientation you’ll need to attend before you can start volunteering. To make sure you’re ready to volunteer when it comes time for spring break contact your organization as soon as possible to find out what you need to do to become a volunteer. Also, be sure to let the organization know up front what dates you are looking to volunteer as they may be set with volunteers for awhile and you don’t want to get shut out.

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