Bobcats plan to give back through alternative Spring Break trips
By Billi London-Gray
Texas State is known for its warm sense of community and welcoming atmosphere. Each spring, groups of Bobcats dedicate time over the March break to share that ethos of helpful generosity by volunteering for service projects and events around the state.
Bobcat Break — Harris County
Texas State’s Student Volunteer Connection (SVC) organizes a service trip — Bobcat Break — each year during Spring Break. With a focus on habitat issues, Bobcat Break projects include travel to and service in a community that is living with a particular habitat problem. This year, Texas State volunteers will work with Habitat for Humanity in Northwest Harris County, outside Houston, to build affordable housing and serve the community.
Participants — who must be enrolled at least half time and in good academic standing — pay around $125 for food, transportation and lodging. Through the experience, Bobcat Break encourages volunteers to become life-long active citizens in their own communities.
For more questions regarding Bobcat Break, e-mail Andrew Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
South by Southwest — Austin
Texas State junior Destiny Brooks is joining the throngs heading to South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin over Spring Break. But unlike many attendees, she is braving the traffic and the crowds to gain valuable work experience as a music production volunteer.
“I’m an electronic media major in SJMC, so I’ll do anything where I can gain real-life experience in the field I’m studying,” Brooks says. “Plus, I’ll be representing Texas State outside of Bobcat Country!”
Brooks says she found out about the volunteer position during Texas State’s Mass Comm Job and Internship Fair in October 2012.
“SXSW was there looking for people to sign up for volunteering and internships,” says Brooks. “I’ve been going to SXSW every Spring Break since I was 17, so when I heard that volunteers get a badge as a perk, it just seemed fitting. I thought I might as well volunteer for a badge this year!”
Texas State Cru — Laredo
Texas State’s chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ — more often referred to as Texas State Cru — will be heading to Laredo over Spring Break. Texas State students will be doing a variety of community outreach activities, including:
- building adobe houses for impoverished families
- picking up trash in the “lost city” (a colonia without water, sewage, trash or other basic services)
- hosting a kids camp
- distributing meals to the homeless
- working with Volunteers Serving the Need, a Laredo-area nonprofit that helps veterans and their surviving spouses make ends meet
Cru staff member John Nelson says he hopes for 40 to 60 Texas State volunteers to take part in the outreach program, called Loving on Laredo (LoL for short).
“Our qualifications for students are that they register for the trip, pay, sign the liability release and the medical form, and want to serve the people of Laredo and make friendships along the way,” Nelson says.
Baptist Student Ministry — South Padre and Arlington
The Texas State Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) is organizing two service trips over Spring Break: one to Arlington and another to South Padre Island.
The students headed to Arlington will provide general service to a local community, helping with work requests received by a church there. Students on the South Padre trip will work with volunteers from BSMs and other organizations across the state. The annual effort, called Beach Reach, began in 1980 and provides free van rides to people on the island to prevent drunk driving. Volunteers also perform a variety of other services, including serving pancake breakfasts at night, handing out sunscreen during the day, picking up trash on the beaches each morning, and planting vegetation to stabilize the sand dunes.
Matt Fry, a 2012 Texas State grad and a BSM staff member, says the service-based outreach model of the trip helps volunteers connect with people on a personal level while providing a challenging experience.
“Our goal is to show them how Jesus did it, through love, with a person-to-person approach,” Fry says. “It’s a long and intense week: 12-hour shifts at the breakfast station or at the call center for pickups. People in the vans can Tweet us prayer requests, too, and we have volunteers praying for those requests.”
Fry says more than 700 volunteers — 24 from Texas State — attended Beach Reach in 2012; the City of South Padre Island expressed its gratitude to the Beach Reach volunteers for “the outstanding community services they have provided” and posted photos and a video of the effort on its website.
Are you participating in a service-oriented project over Spring Break? Tell us about it! We’d love to share information and photos about your efforts with the Texas State community. E-mail email@example.com or Tweet @billilg.