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Students to Participate in Alternative Spring Break Program

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Nearly 40 students at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh will give up partying at the beach for spring break. In exchange, they will head to seven different locations March 12-19 to engage in various community service activities through the Alternative Spring Break Program.

This program has been in existence at SUNY Plattsburgh since 1994. Each year, the Center for Service Learning and Volunteerism gives students the opportunity to volunteer during what is usually a week vacation for college students at spring.

"Every trip is a new learning experience," said Alyssa Amyotte, a senior who will be going on her fourth alternative spring break trip this March. "It is the opportunity to help outside the community that you live in."

Volunteers will be working in Jackson, Tenn., and Bridgeport, Conn., with Habitat for Humanity building homes for low-income families. In Bridgeton, N.J., students will work with at-risk pre-school and Head Start programs. Other students will be working in Baltimore, Md., at a soup kitchen, in Pursglove, W. Va., at the Shack, a community center, and Mount Rogers, Va., to do environmental conservation work such as trail clearing, building bridge areas and re-routing streams off of trails. In Greenfield, N.H., students will work at a school with children with disabilities.

"Going on this trip gives me the opportunity to give back to others what I have been fortunate enough to already have," said Ian Finisterre a residence assistant and student association senator, who will be a site leader on the Bridgeton, N.J. trip. "Giving to others helps you develop as a person."

Several staff members will also travel to some of the locations with the students. Allison Swick-Duttine, coordinator of greek affairs, will travel to Pursglove, W. Va., and Steve Matthews, assistant for the vice president of student affairs and coordinator of judicial affairs and orientation, will be going to Jackson, Tenn for the eleventh time.

Cori Matthews, director of the Center for Service learning and Volunteerism and coordinator of the Alternative Spring Break Program, said that the travel aspect entices students to volunteer for community service.

"We hope the students come back with a better understanding of societal issues and actively participate in community service projects in the Plattsburgh community when they return to campus," said Matthews.
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